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Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine

Edwin Amenta is an American sociologist best known for his study of social policy, social movements, and the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Through his political mediation theory, developed in conjunction with his research on the Townsend Plan and other Depression-era movements, Amenta has influenced how scholars conceptualize, study, and explain social movement impacts. Amenta's recent work analyzes the complete coverage in U.S. national newspapers of all movement and advocacy organizations across the twentieth century.

Amenta has written three books and more than 50 articles and book chapters. Bold Relief: Institutional Politics and the Origins of Modern American Social Policy (Princeton University Press, 1998) won the 1999 Distinguished Book award from the American Sociological Association section on Political Sociology. His article “Age for Leisure? Political Mediation and the Impact of the Pension Movement on U.S. Old-Age Policy" (with Neal Caren and Sheera Joy Olasky) won the 2006 Best Published Article Award from the American Sociological Association section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements.

Amenta's other books include When Movements Matter: The Townsend Plan and the Rise of Social Security (Princeton University Press, 2006), Professor Baseball: Searching for Redemption and the Perfect Lineup on the Softball Diamonds of Central Park (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), and The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

Amenta has received funding from the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Science Foundation and his writing has been published in the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chronicle of Higher Education, and University of Chicago Magazine.


  • –present
    Professor of Sociology , University of California, Irvine