John Skrentny

John Skrentny, professor of sociology, and director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UCSD.CCIS Director and Professor of Sociology, UCSD
Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
University of California at San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093-0548
Telephone: (858) 822-4447
Fax: (858) 822-4432

John Skrentny’s personal page and CV »

In addition to ongoing comparative work on regional variations in immigration law,  John Skrentny has begun a new project with his UCSD colleague Kevin Lewis on how science and engineering workers respond to change in their fields. With funding by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, they will explore which workers are most likely to engage in training to keep their skills current and also what happens after they train. This project is part of a larger effort to understand the dynamics of demand for skill workers in the U.S. and abroad. Skrentny’s new book from Princeton University Press is After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace. This book explores the ways that economic, demographic, and political changes have helped create a new strategy for managing race in the workplace.  His previous work includes two books and edited another on the historical development of laws and policies to protect the rights and opportunities of minorities in the US. These studies have included a wide variety of groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and white ethnics, as well as immigrants, the disabled, gays/lesbians and women of all races and ethnicities. This research has sought to bring a cultural approach to the fields of historical institutionalism and American political development. Starting with the premise that no policy is developed without the decisions of policy makers, Skrentny has focused his research on the worldviews and actions of policy-making elites, situating them in their historical, local and global contexts.

Specifically, Skrentny’s books have included The Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture and Justice in America (University of Chicago Press, 1996), a study of the development and politics of affirmative action in employment for African Americans. This book was featured in a author-meets-critics panel at the conference of the Social Science History Association, and was reviewed in a wide variety of academic journals, as well as The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. More recent is The Minority Rights Revolution (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002), which won the Distinguished Book Award from the Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association and was a finalist for the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award of the Organization of American Historians. The book was featured in author-meets-critics panels at meetings of the American Sociological Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the Western Political Science Association. This work was also widely reviewed in academic journals, as well as The Washington Post Book World, The Boston Globe, and The Nation.He has edited a book, Color Lines: Affirmative Action, Immigration and Policy Options for America (University of Chicago Press, 2001) and also edited two issues of American Behavioral Scientist. Skrentny’s work has also appeared in a variety of leading academic journals.


Research Expertise

International migration, immigration of the highly skilled, immigration politics and law, labor supply and training of scientists and engineers, innovation

Geographical Regions of Specialization

United States, Asia, Europe

Current Research Projects

“Falling Behind, Moving Up or Moving Out?  Worker Training in Science and Engineering”: With Kevin Lewis. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“The Three Worlds of Immigration”: Exploration of variations in immigration policy in East Asia, Europe and North America. This project will be run through the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, and may be connected to a series of conferences and projects, as well as a solo-authored book.

Media Interview Topics

Skrentny can provide expertise on the history and politics of immigration in the US, civil rights law, relations of immigrants with African Americans, assimilation and acculturation, the role of immigrants in the American workplace, and immigration politics and policy in Europe and Asia, especially Japan and South Korea.

Selected Publications

2014 “After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace.” Princeton University Press
~Winner of 2015 Western Social Science Association Distinguished Book Award
~Winner of 2014 Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations

2012  With Micah Gell-Redman and Jack Jin Gary Lee. “Introduction: Japan, the United States, and the Philosophical Bases of Immigration Policy.” American Behavioral Scientist 56: 995-1007

2011 With Micah Gell-Redman. “Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Dynamics of Statutory Entrenchment.” The Yale Law Journal Online 120: 325-346.

2009 With Dong-Hoon Seol. “Why Is There So Little Migrant Settlement in East Asia?International Migration Review 43: 578- 620

2009 With Dong-Hoon Seol. “Ethnic Return Migration and Hierarchical Nationhood: Korean Chinese Foreign Workers in South Korea.Ethnicities 9: 147-174

2008 “Culture and Race/Ethnicity: Bolder, Deeper and Broader.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 619: 59-77

2008 “Are America’s Civil Rights Laws Still Relevant?Du Bois Review 4: 1-22

2007  With Stephanie Chan, Jon E. Fox and Denis Kim. “Defining Nations in Asia and Europe: A Comparative Analysis of Ethnic Return Migration Policy.International Migration Review 41: 793-825. Also published in Takeyuki Tsuda, ed., Diasporic Homecomings: Ethnic Return Migrants in Comparative Perspective (Stanford University Press)

2006 “Law and the American State.” Annual Review of Sociology 32: 213-44

2006 “Policy-Elite Perceptions and Social Movement Success: Understanding Variations in Group Inclusion in Affirmative Action,” American Journal of Sociology. 111 (May): 1762-1815

2004With Dong-Hoon Seol. “South Korea: Importing Undocumented Workers.”In Wayne A. Cornelius, Takeyuki Tsuda, Philip L. Martin, and James F. Hollifield, eds., Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective [second edition], Stanford University Press, pp. 475-513

2002 The Minority Rights Revolution, the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

2001(editor) Color Lines: Immigration, Affirmative Action and Civil Rights Options for America, University of Chicago Press

1996 The Ironies of Affirmative Action:  Politics, Culture and Justice in America, University of Chicago Press

Academic Background

1994 Harvard University, Ph. D., Sociology

1990 Harvard University, A.M., Sociology

1988 Indiana University, B.A., Sociology and Philosophy