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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Stephen J. Pfohl

Sociology Department


Stephen J. Pfohl


Ph.D., The Ohio State University

McGuinn Hall 416
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617-552-4135

Curriculum Vitae

Personal website


Social Theory, Deviance and Social Control, Digital Cultural Studies, Visual Sociology, Social Psychoanalysis, Critical Criminology, Global Technologies of Gender, Race, and Class


My scholarly passions have long been sparked by critical analyses of the ritual intersections between culture, history, and social power. Animated by an amalgam of interpretive, poststructuralist, feminist, social psychoanalytic, global economic, and critical race theories, this approach to the sociological imagination has led me to research a diverse, yet interrelated, set of topics. These include analyses of the “discovery” of child abuse; the social construction of psychiatric diagnoses of “dangerousness;” the historical specificity of theories and policy initiatives pertaining to crime, deviance and social control; the global emergence of ultramodern forms of power, resistance, and change; the relationship between public sociology and classroom pedagogy; and, more recently, affinities and tensions between the realms of magic, religion, and technology.

I am currently completing work on a multiple-volume study of the origins and systemic impact of new global technologies of cybernetic social power. Of particular importance to this investigation is the cultural, political, and economic power of suggestive communicative technologies that produce mesmerizing streams of fascination and fear. In recent years, I have also created and collaborated on variety of mixed-media sociological performances and video-texts, exploring the sensory contours, social-psychic constraints, and imaginative new pathways for social justice engendered by contemporary digital culture.


SOCY1030 - Deviance and Social Control
SOCY5532 - Images and Power
SOCY5533 - Sociology and Psychoanalysis
SOCY5583 - Postmodernity and Social Theory
SOCY7716 - Contemporary Social Theory


President, Society for the Study of Social Problems, 1992-93

Distinguished Teaching Award, Boston College, 2006

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, Boston College, 2006

Post-doctoral Fellowship, Yale University, 1981-82

Corresponding Editor, CTheory: an International Journal of Theory, Technology, and Culture, 1989-present


“The Criminological Imagination in an Age of Global Cybernetic Power” in Jonathan Frauley, ed., C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination, Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishers, 2015, pp. 99-131.

“Straying: Deviance,” with Kimberly Bachechi, Chapter 14 in Steve Matthewman, Catherine Lane West-Newman, and Bruce Curtis, eds., Being Sociological, 2nd edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 251-269.

“Technologies of the Apocalypse: The Left Behind Novels and Flight from the Flesh,” in Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, eds, Critical Digital Studies: a Reader, Second Edition, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013, pp. 408-432.

"Digital Magic, Cybernetic Sorcery: On the Politics of Fascination and Fear," CTHEORY, CDS 001, Special Issue on “Code Drift: Essays in Critical Digital Studies,” (June 2010),, pp. 1-19.

“The Reality of Social Constructions,” Chapter 33 in James A. Holstein and Jaber F. Gubrium, eds., Handbook of Constructionist Research, New York: The Guilford Press, 2008, pp. 645-668.

‘We are all Cho Seung-Hui!’: American Social Psychosis and the Virginia Tech Killings,” in Ben Agger and Timothy W. Luke, eds., There is a Gunman on Campus: Tragedy and Terror at Virginia Tech. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2008, pp. 93-104.

“New Global Technologies of Power: Cybernetic Capitalism and Social Inequality,” Chapter 23 in Mary Romero and Eric Margolis, eds., The Blackwell Companion for Social Inequalities, Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2005, pp. 246-592.

"Theses on the Cyberotics of History: Venus in Microsoft, remix," in Joan Broadhurst Dixon and Eric J. Cassidy, eds., Cyberotics: Virtual Futures, Technology and Post-Human Pragmatism, New York: Routledge, 1998, pp. 11-29.

Images of Deviance and Social Control: A Sociological History, 2nd Edition, reissued in paper back, Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, 2009.

Left Behind: Religion, Technology and Flight from the Flesh with Arthur Kroker, Born Again Ideology: Religion, Technology and Terrorism. Victoria, Canada: CTheory Books/ New World Perspectives, 2007.

Culture: History and Power: Studies in Critical Sociology. Co-edited with Aimee Van Wagenen, Patricia Arend, Abigail Brooks and Denise Leckenby. Chicago: Haymarket Press, 2009.


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