Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

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Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

Deapartment of Sociology

Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY 10027

(212) 854-4281


William B. Ransford Professor, Department of Sociology and Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. (Joint affiliation: Institute for Research in African-American Studies.)

Senior Research Advisor, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2009-2012.

Director, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, 2009-2010.


Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics, University of California, San Diego, 1988.

Master of Arts, Sociology, University of Chicago, 1992.

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Chicago, 1997.

Junior Fellowship (Society of Fellows), Harvard University, 1996-1999.

  • Manuscripts

Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist in New York’s Underground Economy. (2013)
Gang Leader for a Day. Penguin Press (2008).

Best Book, The Economist, 2008.

Translations: Japanese, French, German, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese.

Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor. Harvard University Press, (2006).

*C.Wright Mills award (2006) from the Society for the Study of Social Problems

*”Top 10 Books of 2006,”

*Best Book award (2007). “Race, Ethnicity & Politics” Sect., Amer Poli. Sci. Assoc.

Translations: Japanese, French.
Youth, Law & Globalization. Edited volume (with Ronald Kassimir). Stanford U. (2007).
Building Community Capacity (w/R. J. Chaskin, P. Brown and A. Vidal). Aldine Gruyter (2001).

American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto. Harvard University Press, 2000.

*Best Book, Sociology & Anthropology (2000), Association of American Publishers.

*Honorable Mention (2002). Section on Race and Ethnicity, Amer. Soc. Assoc.

Articles & Essays (Peer Review Journals)

“Underground Markets as Fields in Transition: An Ethnography of Sex Work in New York City.” Sociological Forum (December 2013).

“The Rise of First-Person Ethnography: The Reflective Turn in the Social Sciences,” The Sociological Quarterly (January, 2013).

*I served as Guest Editor of the volume on ethnographic methods.

“A Race to Reflexivity.” Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol 35(4). April 2012.

“A Perversion of Choice: Sex Work Offers Just Enough in Chicago’s Urban Ghetto.” (w/ Eva Rosen). Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol.37(4). 2009.

“Gangs and the Law,” Annual Review of Law and Social Science, (w/ Eva Rosen) (Autumn 2008).
“Underground Gun Markets” (w/ Philip Cook, Jens Ludwig, and Anthony Braga). Economic Journal (2007).
“Introduction to the work of Herbert J. Gans,” (w/ Eva Rosen) City & Community (Spring 2007).
“Vice Careers,” (w/Alexandra Murphy). Qualitative Sociology (Summer, 2006).
“Whither the Socially Isolated Ghetto?” Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol. 26(6), 2003.
“The Urban Street Gang.” (w/ Brenda Coughlin). Annual Review of Sociology (2003).
“Doin’ the Hustle: Constructing the Ethnographer in the American Ghetto.” Ethnography 3(1): 91-111. 2002.
"Chicago's Pragmatic Planners: American Sociology and the Myth of Community." Social Science History (Summer 2001).
“Growing Up in the Projects: The Economic Lives of a Cohort of Men who Came of Age in Chicago Public Housing.” (w/ Steven D. Levitt) American Economic Review (May 2001).
"’Are We a Family or a Business?’ History and Disjuncture in the Urban American Street Gang" (w/ Steven D. Levitt). Theory and Society 29: 427-462 (Autumn 2000).
"The Financial Activities of an Urban Street Gang" (with Steven D. Levitt). Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2000 (August). Volume 115(3): 755-789.
"Community-Based Interventions into Street Gang Activity." Journal of Community Psychology. 1999. Volume 27(5): 551-568.
“The Social Organization of Street Gang Activity in an Urban Ghetto.” American Journal of Sociology. Volume 103(1) (July 1997): 82-111.
“Gender and Outlaw Capitalism: An Historical Account of the Black Sisters United Girl Gang.” Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society.1998. Volume 23(3): 683-709.
“The Three-Tier Model: How Helping Occurs in Poor Communities.” Social Service Review. Volume 71(4) (December 1997): 574-606.
“Getting Ahead: Social Mobility Among the Urban Poor.” Sociological Perspectives. Volume 37(2) (Summer 1994):157-182.

Book Chapters, Essays & Reviews

“Youth Culture in the Era of Law & Order.” Appearing in The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth. Edited by Orlando Patterson and Ethan Fosse. Harvard University Press. (2014).

“Race, Place and Drug Enforcement.” Criminology & Public Policy. November 2012.
“Robert Sampson’s Neighborhood.” Public Books/Public Culture. Autumn 2012.
“Youth and Legal Institutions: Thinking Globally and Comparatively,” (w/Ronald Kassimir) in Youth, Globalization and the Law. Ed. by Sudhir Venkatesh and Ronald Kassimir. Stanford University Press (2007).
“Policing Ourselves: Law and Order in the American Ghetto,” (w/ Alexandra Murphy) in Youth, Globalization and the Law. Ed. by Sudhir Venkatesh and Ronald Kassimir. Stanford University Press (2007).
"The Social Organization of Public Policy in Contexts of Urban Poverty," in Sociological Studies of Children, Volume 8. Edited by David Kinney. Stanford, CT: JAI Press (Autumn, 2001).
"Theory in Contemporary Street Gang Research," in Alternate Perspectives on Gangs and Communities, Ed(s). L. Kontos, D. Brotherton, and L. Barrios. Columbia Univ. (2000).
"Looking at Crime From the Street Level." Research Forum, National Institute of Justice, 1999
“The Gang in the Community.” In Gangs in America, 2nd Edition. Edited by C. Ronald Huff. New York: Sage Publications. 1996: 241-256.
“Learnin’ the Trade: Conversations with a Gangsta’,” Public Culture. Volume 6(2) (Winter 1994): 319-342.

General Public/Media Writings (Selected)

“Understanding Kids, Gangs and Guns,” Op-Ed. New York Times. October 4, 2012.

“Drug Dealers & Tide,” Op-Ed, New York Times, January 2013.
“How the Federal Government is Killing Community Policing.” New Republic. October 2012.
“Inside the Flesh Trade.” WIRED. February 2011.
Monthly Columnist for The Daily, 2010-2011.
“Keep the Economy Underground.” Op-Ed, New York Times. January 16, 2010.
“Feeling Too Down to Rise Up.” Op-Ed, New York Times. March 28, 2009.
“But What Does it Mean for Prostitutes? How the financial crisis affects the oldest profession.” September 26, 2008.
“To Fight Poverty, Tear Down HUD.” Op-Ed, New York Times. July 25, 2008.
“Breaking Promises at the CHA.” Commentary/Op-Ed. Chicago Tribune. July 3, 2007.
“The Invisible Community: Inside Chicago’s Public Housing.” The American Prospect. September-October, 1997: 35-41.
“Jeunes a’ la Derive dans les Villes Americaines.” Le Monde Diplomatique. May, 1994 (translated into Italian, “Giovani alla derive nelle citta’ americane.’ Il Manifesto, June 1994.)
Documentary and Film Media

The Upside of Quitting. Freakonomics Podcast. September 30, 2011. (Editor and Narrator).
At the Top of My Voice. A Documentary of Human Rights Activism in Georgia (former Soviet Union).
Dislocation: A Documentary Film on Chicago Public Housing. Aired on Public Broadcasting Service affiliates in Midwest, USA (2005).
Transformation: A History of Public Housing. Aired on Public Radio affiliates in 2003.

Research Grants:

“Fighting Crime Federally: An Investigation of the FBI’s SafeStreets Taskforce.” Pritzker and Pucker Foundation. $35,000. 2010-2012.

“Scholars at Risk” A Documentary Film & Research Planning Grant. Vivian Prins Foundation. $525,000. 2007-2009.
Charles H. Revson Fellowship Program. $2.4 million (2006-2010). Charles H. Revson Foundation.
“Housing Changes in Chicago: A Longitudinal Perspective.” The Rockefeller Foundation.” $100,000. 2003-2006.
“Housing Changes in Chicago: A Longitudinal Perspective.” John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.” $349,000. 2001-2003.
“Housing and Criminal Justice Policy.” The Open Society Institute, $106, 000. 2003-2004.
“Dislocation.” A film project funded by the Ford Foundation. $140,000.
“Public Housing and the Transformation of Chicago.” John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.” $120,000. 2001-2003.
“Youth and Globalization: A Collaborative Research Network.” The Johann Jacobs Foundation. Administered by the Social Science Research Council. 2001-2004. $186,000. 2001-2004.
“The Transformation of Chicago Public Housing.” A radio documentary for National Public Radio’s affiliate, W-BEZ. The Chicago Community Trust. $16,500. 2001-2002.
“Communities and Gun Violence.” (with Jens Ludwig and Phil Cook). The Joyce Foundation. $79,000. 2001-2003.
“Race and Philanthropy.” The Ford Foundation. $25,000. 2000-2002.
"Gangs, Underground Economies, and the African-American Urban Community," National Science Foundation CAREER Award for Young Investigators. 2000-2004. $232,931. 2000-2004.
"Aging in the American Street Gang," Joint Center of Poverty Research (Northwestern University) and the Department of Health and Human Services. $29,000. 2000.
"Communities and At-Risk Youth." The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. $51,000.
"Public Housing and Collective Memory: Remembering the Robert Taylor Homes." The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. 1999. $8,700.
“An Inter-disciplinary Examination of the Economics of Street Gangs” (with Steven Levitt). American Bar Foundation, Chicago, Illinois. 1998-2000. $320,000.
“Communities in Crisis.” Milton Fund, Harvard University. 1997. $12,500.
"The Social Organ. of Urban Poor Neighborhoods." MacArthur Fnd. 1995. $22,500.
Dissertation Research Grant. Johann Jacobs Foundation. 1994. $5,000.

“The Other Economy.” Keynote Lecture, Federal Reserve, April 2013. Washington DC.

2012-2013 Robin Williams Lecturer. Eastern Sociological Society.
Best Book (awarded for Gang Leader for a Day). The Economist. 2008.
C. Wright Mills Book Award (awarded for Off the Books). Society for the Study of Social Problems. 2007.
Best Book 2006. (awarded for Off the Books). Section on Race, Ethnicity and Politics, American Political Science Association. 2007.
Best Book 2006 (awarded for Off the Books). December 2006.
Honorable Mention for American Project. Section on Race and Ethnicity, American Sociological Association. 2002.

Best Documentary Series Award for “Transformation: The State and Future of Chicago Public Housing,” Associated Press (Midwest Division), 2002.

Best Book, Sociology & Anthropology, for American Project. Awarded by the Association of American Publishers. 2000.
NSF CAREER Award. National Science Foundation. 2000.
“Young and Mid-Career Child and Family Scholars Award.” Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1997-1998.
Junior Fellowship, Society of Fellows. Harvard University, 1997-1999.
“National Science Foundation Fellowship, 1991-1994.

Foreign Language & Area Studies (Title VI) Fellowship. University of Chicago, 1990-1.


Member, Editorial Board, Public Culture.

Member, Editorial Board. Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Member, Editorial Board, Contexts.

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of the American Planning Association.

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