Matthew Valasik


Matthew Valasik

Associate Professor of Sociology

Address:
17B Stubbs Hall

Email Address:
mvalasik@lsu.edu

College:
Humanities & Social Sciences

Department:
Sociology

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

  • Criminology
  • Gangs
  • White Power Movement (Alt-Right)
  • Policing
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Social Networks

 

Biography

I joined LSU’s Sociology Department in 2014 after completing my Ph.D. in Criminology, Law & Society from the University of California, Irvine. My interdisciplinary training has informed my interest in applied research at the intersection of geography, place, and theory to better understand the community context of crime, focusing particularly on gangs and problem oriented policing strategies. I was named a LSU Rainmaker and awarded the LSU Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award in 2019. I received the LSU Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award in 2020. 

My current research agenda is two-fold. The first component of my research program, the socio-spatial dynamics of gang behavior (i.e., territoriality, group cohesion, and violence), builds on the observation that street gangs are a localized phenomenon emerging and adapting in a particular geography. This also includes comparing and contrasting the attributes of street gangs with other deviant groups (i.e., ISIS, Skinheads, Alt-Right, White Power Groups). Building on this notion, the second component of my research program examines effective strategies aimed at reducing neighborhood violence and discouraging gang activity, such as problem-oriented policing strategies (e.g., gang units, civil gang injunctions) or criminal justice policies (e.g., drug enforcement).

I am co-author of Alt-Right Gangs: A Hazy Shade of White, published by University of California Press in September 2020, examining the rise of Alt-Right groups through the lens of street gang research. This book is one of the first to conceptualize Alt-Right gangs and situate their existence across a broad range of academic literature and current events. Relationally I am also a fellow at the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism (IRMS).

My work has appeared in Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Youth Studies, Social Science Research, Theoretical Criminology, Crime & Delinquency, Homicide Studies, Critical Criminology, Criminal Justice Review, Deviant Behavior, Statistics and Public Policy, Crime Science, Journal of Crime and Justice, Journal of Criminology, Policy, and Practice, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Social Sciences, Contexts,  and The US Army War College Quarterly: Parameters. In addition to scholarly publications, my research has received coverage in mainstream media outlets such as The Conversation The Washington Post's  Monkey Cage, The Guardian, The Crime Report, and Rolling Stone.

In addition to my research interests, I regularly teach SOCL 2371: Aspects of Federal, State, & Local Law Enforcement, SOCL 3371: Sociology of the Criminal Justice System, SOCL 4468: Sociology of Gangs, and SOCL 4466: Crime Mapping, a geographical information systems (GIS) course. My courses are designed with the pedagogical goal of grounding theoretical material in everyday life allowing students to apply a criminological lens to critically evaluate social problems facing society. Lastly, I feel that mentoring is a vital component of academia and I am very committed to advising students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, encouraging them to develop their own research interests and aiding future career decisions.

Education

PhD: University of California, Irvine (2014)

Curriculum Vitae