Executive Board

Center for Cultural Sociology Co-Directors

Jeffrey AlexanderJeffrey C. Alexander

Jeffrey Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University, founder and co-director of Yale’s Center for Cultural Sociology, and co-editor of The American Journal of Cultural Sociology. A social theorist whose early work challenged the anti-cultural reductionism of classical and modern sociology, Alexander has worked with generations of students and colleagues to create a “strong program” in cultural sociology. Synthesizing late Durkheim with semiotics, poststructuralism, and cultural anthropology, he has conceptualized, not only models of deep cultural structure, but theories of cultural trauma, social performance, and material iconicity. Alexander has also developed ”civil sphere theory,” a macro-sociological model of democracy and the forces that can undermine it. He is currently organizing a series of conference/edited book projects: The Civil Sphere in Latin America (Cambridge University Press 2018),  The Civil Sphere in East Asia (CUP, forthcoming 2019), Breaching the Civil Order: Radicalism and the Civil Sphere (CUP, forthcoming 2018), and The Nordic Civil Sphere (Polity, 2019). The Civil Sphere and Populism (Polity 2020), The Canadian Civil Sphere (forthcoming, UBC Press), and The Civil Sphere in India (Polity, forthcoming). His most recent book is What Makes a Social Crisis: The Societalization of Social Problems (Polity 2020). Press. His most recent article is “Office Obligation as Civil Virtue: The Crisis of America Democracy, November 3, 2020 - January 6, 2021, and After” (Society, forthcoming).

Philip SmithPhilip Smith

Philip Smith is Professor of Sociology, co-Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology and co-editor of the American Journal of Cultural Sociology. Smith writes in the area of social and cultural theory as well as empirical cultural sociology. He works mostly from a Durkheimian perspective and is a noted contributor to the Strong Program. His most recent book is Durkheim and After: The Durkheimian Tradition, 1893-2020 (Polity, 2020). This is the first sustained attempt a big picture view of both Durkheim and his legacy in sociology, anthropology and explanatory social theory. Other research monographs include Why War? The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War and Suez (Chicago, 2005); Punishment and Culture (Chicago 2008); Incivility: The Rude Stranger in Everyday Life (co-authored. Cambridge, 2010) and Climate Change as Social Drama (with N. Howe. Cambridge 2016). In addition Smith is author or editor of several textbooks and edited volumes, and over seventy chapters and refereed articles. His ongoing projects in the academic year 2023/24 include a mixed method study of the composer Richard Wagner and the Bayreuth Festival; an investigation of shifting climate change media representation using ‘big data’; an effort to challenge conventional understandings of Durkheim’s collective effervesence; and thinking about the role of ‘mystery’ in social life as a dimension of the sacred.

Center for Cultural Sociology Associate Director

Yagmur KarakayaYagmur Karakaya

Yağmur Karakaya’s research and teaching interests are in political sociology, cultural sociology, and collective memory. Specifically, she studies nostalgia as a collective force, highlighting its central place within both populist political discourse and popular culture. Her book project examines the contemporary Ottoman revival in Turkey as a dynamic process between two forms: state-sponsored neo-Ottomanism observable in public displays, and the entertainment-oriented popular Ottomania, exemplified by leisure activities. In her article in American Journal of Cultural Sociology (2020), she argues that state-led populist nostalgia mobilizes both emotions and reflexive cognition to shape political engagement. This article was awarded an honorable mention by the American Sociological Association’s Culture Section in 2019. A lead-authored article came out from Social Forces in 2022. This research draws on a systematic analysis of Donald Trump/MAGA rallies, to argue how Trump uses his performance to fuse a distinctly American style of populism. Focusing on the cultural accomplishment of his performance, particularly the creation of a business-friendly rhetoric that leverages popular cultural idioms underlines the shift from politics as vocation, to politics as business. Her work also appeared in Sociological Forum, Sociological Inquiry, and New Perspectives on Turkey.

Yağmur earned her PhD at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and she earned her BA at Bogazici University in Turkey. She also holds an MA from Koç University, Turkey.