Trained in social theory and comparative-historical sociology, I have published a number of journal articles and book chapters on the following topics: the theoretical foundations of the sociology of human rights; the role of social movement organizations (SMOs) in claiming and modifying the human rights canon; the origins and evolution of the human rights community; the human rights approach to development in the Global South; and the prospects for new forms of global governance that promote “positive peace.” In the two chapters that I contributed to Sociology and Human Rights: A Bill of Rights for the Twenty-First Century (Sage Publications, 2011)—a volume that Judith Blau and I developed and co-edited—I examine the relationship between human rights and democracy in the US context. My recent book, The Sociology of Human Rights (Polity Press, 2014), establishes a theoretical and conceptual framework for the sociological analysis of intellectual debates on and concrete struggles over human rights. As I have defined it, the sociology of human rights involves the analysis of the social origins and impacts of human rights norms, practices, laws, policies, and institutions. To the end of solidifying the new field, the book weaves together: (1) an approach derived from development sociology, illuminating rights conditions—the material circumstances under which grievances emerge; (2) an approach derived from social movement research, elucidating the process by which community-based groups and SMOs translate their grievances into rights claims—the demands that aggrieved parties and their representatives make on states and other authorities; and (3) an approach derived from political sociology, explaining rights effects—the implementation of rights through legislation at the state level and their impacts on power relations in society. These three concepts—rights conditions, rights claims, and rights effects—capture the process by which human rights circulate not only from one level to another within societies, but also across national boundaries.
In a current book project—tentatively titled, Democracy: A Critical Introduction, I am exploring new models of popular decision-making and democracy. In addition, I am working on two articles that examine the complex and contradictory status of human rights in contemporary social theory.
The following is a list of selected publications. A full list of publications is listed on my cv.
Books & Monographs
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
2012. Bruce Friesen, Mark Frezzo, and Brian Gran. 2012. “Of Tools and Houses: Sociologists Without Borders and the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition.” Societies Without Borders 7 (4): 447-469.
2011. “Sociology and Human Rights Education: Beyond the Three Generations?” Societies Without Borders 6 (2): 3-22.
2011. “Sociology and Human Rights in the Post-Development Era.” Sociology Compass 5 (3): 3-14. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00361.x
2010. “Rethinking Human Rights, Development, and Democracy: The Paradox of the UN.” Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 9 (1): 28-38. doi.org:10.1163/156914910X487889
2009. Mark Frezzo and Farshad Araghi. 2009. “Exorcising the Specter of Development: Human Rights in the 21st Century.” Societies Without Borders 4(1): 3-20. doi:10.1163/187219108X388671
2008. “Sociology, Human Rights, and the World Social Forum.” Societies Without Borders 3 (1): 35-47. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004167698.i-248.91
Chapters in Edited Volumes
2017. “Why a Sociology of Human Rights?” In Louis Esparza, Keri Iyall Smith, and Judith Blau (eds.), Of the People, By the People, For the People. Routledge.
2008. “Rights to Participate in Democracy.” In Judith Blau, David Brunsma, Alberto Moncada, and Catherine Zimmer (eds.), The Leading Rogue State: The US and Human Rights. Routledge.
2004. “The Ambivalent Role of Psychology/Psychoanalysis.” In Immanuel Wallerstein and Richard Lee (eds.), Overcoming the Two Cultures: Science vs. the Humanities in the Modern World-System. Routledge.