Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
José Itzigsohn

José Itzigsohn

José Itzigsohn

Faculty Fellow
Professor of Sociology

Areas of Interest: Migrant transnationalism, immigrant incorporation, identity formation, informal and solidarity economy, state and development.


José Itzigsohn is professor of Sociology and faculty fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He received his PhD in sociology from the Johns Hopkins University (1995). He is the author of two books (Encountering American Faultlines and Developing Poverty) and numerous articles on migrant transnationalism, immigrant incorporation, ethnic and racial identities on the one hand, and informal economies, cooperatives, and the state on the other. He works within the world-system theoretical paradigm, but is interested in the local variations within the world economic and political systems. He investigates how local and regional institutional forms and identity formation processes develop and interact with world-systemic trends.


My work focuses on two areas. The first one is the political economy of development. My first book, Developing Poverty, compares the structure of the informal economy in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic and the effect of state policies on those structures. Currently I am studying the recuperated factories in Argentina (factories that have been taken over by workers who run them as workers owned cooperatives) assessing the everyday practices and organizational forms of the democratically managed enterprises.

My second area of interest is immigrant incorporation. Within this area I have published several articles on transnationalism, ethnoracial identities, and social mobility. My book Encountering American Faultlines analyzes the class and racial faultlines of American society from the perspective of the process of incorporation of Dominican immigrants. Currently, I am investigating the process of intergenerational mobility of Latinos within the American class structure.


"Class, Race, and Emancipation: The Contributions of The Black Jacobins and Black Reconstruction in America to historical sociology and social theory." C.L.R. James Journal (forthcoming).

"A Transnational Nation? Migration, Belonging and Rights." In Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas and Networks edited by Terence Lyons and Peter Mandeville, London, UK; Hurst, 2012.

Encountering American Faultlines: Class, Race, and the Dominican Experience, NewYork, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009. (Co-winner of the American Sociological Association Latino/a Sociology Section 2009 Best Contribution to Research Best Book Award).

(with Daniela Villacres) "Migrant Political Transnationalism and the Practice of Democracy: Dominican external voting rights and Salvadoran home town associations" Ethnic and Racial Studies, (31), 4: 664-686, 2008.

"Migration and Transnational Citizenship in Latin America: The cases of Mexico and the Dominican Republic" Pp. 113-134 in Thomas Faist and Peter Kivisto (eds.), From Unitary to Multiple Citizenship. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

(with Matthias Vom Hau) "Unfinished Imagined Communities: The theoretical implications of nationalism in Latin America," Theory and Society, 35(2): 193-212, 2006.


Soc. 2600 – Comparative Historical Sociology

Sociologists interested in using historical cases to make generalizable arguments face challenges from the more statistically inclined fellow sociologists and from the more humanistic oriented historians. This class provides the students tools to conduct methodologically and theoretically solid comparative historical work. The course addresses different approaches to the practice of comparative historical sociology. It also discusses different strategies for causal assessment, case selection, and theory building. During the course we will read examples of comparative historical sociology and we will analyze these works in the light of the theoretical and methodological issues discussed in the class.

DS 1000/Soc. 1871D – Sophomore Seminar on Development

This seminar provides an introduction to the field of Development Studies through an in-depth look at the diversity of understandings of the concept as well as its practical applications in the contemporary world. Students will read texts that present pressing questions concerning development practices, policies, and theories. The pedagogical approach is to require students to read entire books, write thought-pieces ahead of seminar meetings, and engage in lively critical discussions of the readings during the seminar meetings. Class sessions will be highly participatory and efforts to connect broader debates to understanding contemporary problems will be encouraged.

Soc. 1270 – Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the Modern World

This course is an introduction to the sociological study of race, class, and ethnicity, Race, class, and ethnicity are key dimensions of social classification, inequality, and identity formation. Race, class, and ethnicity structure access to rights, resources, and recognition. The goal of the course is to explore how these categories are created and maintained and how these different forms of social differentiation interact with each other in the United States and in other parts of the world.