Cary Beckwith




Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Bard College


Ph.D., M.A. – Princeton University: Sociology | B.A. – Amherst College


Click for a full CV.


My research agenda begins with Durkheim’s assertion that “Every society is a moral society.” What are the moral claims and categories that order the social world? How are people classified, formally and informally, as worthy or unworthy—for employment, credit, social benefits, citizenship, or friendship? What are the consequences of social processes that differentiate people on moral grounds?

These questions animate my research across several substantive areas, and they connect my work to topics in cultural sociology, economic sociology, and microsociology as well as to the body of research that is consolidating as “the new sociology of morality.”

My current project is an ethnographic study of the migrant workforce powering North Dakota’s shale oil boom. This project investigates the moral worldviews of a population that has restricted social networks, few ties to local institutions, and few local commitments beyond their employment. A previous project looked at how social status shapes the distribution of “we-feeling,” or a sense of belonging, within naturally occurring communities. Another paper uses the case of a public embarrassment spectacle to assess the role of conversational mechanics in producing a moral outcome.

An extended research statement is available on request.


My teaching experience includes courses on sociological theory, economic sociology, social interactions, and social inequality as well as a general introductory course. I currently teach at Bard College. I have taught in New York and New Jersey state prisons with the Bard Prison Initiative, the Princeton Prison Teaching Initiative, and the NJ-STEP program. I also taught at the Honors College at George Mason University and as an Assistant in Instruction at Princeton. My teaching record includes Princeton’s Teaching Transcript Program and the Sociology Department’s prize for graduate student teaching.

My pedagogy is geared toward a participatory classroom centered on discussion and collaborative activities. I work to create an inclusive environment that attends to the diversity of students’ social backgrounds and learning processes. My lesson plans and course design advance core liberal arts objectives such as organized thinking, effective communication, synthetic analysis, and constructive disagreement.

Teaching evaluations and an extended teaching statement are available on request. Click to see sample syllabi.

Writing & Research



Cary Beckwith
Department of Sociology
Bard College
Campus Road, PO Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504

cbeckwith at bard dot edu