Dr. Jesse S.G. Wozniak

Hello! I’m an Associate Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University, where I’ve been since Spring 2013 after receiving my Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Minnesota.

My research centers mainly on policing and social control, with an emphasis on how state power intersects with neoliberalism and neoimperialism. My work has appeared in such journals as The British Journal of Criminology, Punishment and Society, Social Science Quarterly, and The Journal of Peace Research, as well as having been featured on the POEMPS Middle East Political Science Podcast, Foreign Affairs, Jadaliyya, Buzzfeed News, and Top of the Mind with Julie Rosen.

My first book, Policing Iraq: Legitimacy, Democracy, and Empire in a Developing State (University of California Press), is now in print! Click here to read more about it, or just go ahead and buy it from UC Press, Powell’s, Indie Bound, Book Shop, or your favorite local bookstore. International policing expert Dr. Pete Kraska called it a “rare gem” and who are you to argue with that?

I also have the great honor of serving on the Steering Committee of the Coalition to Reimagine Public Safety through my work with the Alliance for Police Accountability. The Coalition brought together a wide range of community members and organizations of those who have been impacted by police violence and who are working on building safe and secure communities throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Click here to read our Community Vision for Lasting Health and Safety, of which I was the lead author. The Coalition’s work continues with us undertaking a series of listening and learning trips to communities that have successfully instituted alternative response, and we continue to be hard at work developing non-police responses to community health and safety.

If you have any questions about my research, publications, or the courses I teach, please explore the links on the left side of the page, give me a shout , or slide into my dms @jessesgwozniak

Academic Positions

  • 2019-Present Associate Professor

    West Virginia University
    Department of Sociology and Anthropology

  • 2013 - 2019 Assistant Professor

    West Virginia University
    Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Current Research

While I am firmly encamped within academic sociology, my research is in conversation with scholarship in criminology, political science, international relations, geography, and social movements outside of the academy. My work has focused primarily on the origins and development of policing practices, police reconstruction and state-building, abolition and alternatives to policing, and situating state formation in a broader context of neoliberal globalization and neoimperialism. The goal of my work is to not only understand narrow questions of how police (re)construction, training, and practices actually work on the ground, but also larger questions of how police are designed to fulfill political projects, how the modern state wields its power, how imperialism operates in contemporary international relations, and how community safety and health can be maintained without the presence of police.

Currently I have four active lines of research, ranging from historical work to international fieldwork to partnerships with government agencies and community organizations. For a much longer and more academically pretentious explanation of my current research, click the button below.

Read More

Police Training Inside-Out Assessment

Norm Conti, Jesse Wozniak, Robert Wideman, Amy Philips (data collection)

“A Century of Policing Recommendations: Change and Continuity in Official Response to Civil Disorders and the Role Police Played”

Wozniak, Jesse (data collection and analysis)

“Shaping the State and its People: What Early US and Contemporary Iraqi Police Reveal About the Centrality of Policing to the Modern Capitalist State”

Wozniak, Jesse (draft, expected submission Spring 2024)

"A Community Vision on Police Abolition: Lessons on Theorizing from Below"

Wozniak, Jesse (Revise and Resubmit at Social Justice)

“Legal Decision-Making in Iraqi Kurdistan”

Wozniak, Jesse, Gabrielle Ferrales, and Wenjie Liao (Under review at Criminology)

“Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory: Radicalization, Violent Extremism, and Social Bonds”

Wozniak, Jesse and Vivian Guettler (under review at Terrorism and Political Violence)


“Police Recruit Narratives and Publicly-Oriented Vocabularies of Motive”

Jesse Wozniak, Patrick Doreian, and Norm Conti (forthcoming at International Journal of Police Science and Management)

Interview and Ethnographic Data Analysis

Wozniak, Jesse and Gabrielle Ferrales (data analysis)

Most Recent Publications

All Publications

Police Recruit Narratives and Publicly Oriented Vocabularies of Motive

Forthcoming at International Journal of Police Science and Management
Wozniak, Jesse, Norman Conti, and Patrick Doreian

“The Evolving Self-Presentation of the Islamic State, From Dabiq to Rumiyah”

The Social Science Journal 59(4): 588-600.
Wozniak, Jesse, Joshua Woods, and Yan Song Lee

“An Initial Case Study in Education Among Police and Incarcerated Men”

The Police Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles 93(3): 248–264.
Burston, Adam, Norman Conti, Jesse Wozniak, and Elaine Frantz

Media Appearances

Interviews, radio, and news appearances featuring research and publications.

Classes Taught

Fall 2023

SOCA 488
Capstone: Law, Politics, and Inequality

SOCA 319
Police Culture and Socialization

Spring 2022

SOCA 319
Police Culture and Socialization

SOCA 721
Qualitative Research Methods

Graduate (Past)

SOCA 610
Advanced General Sociology

SOCA 721
Qualitative Research Methods

SOCA 793
Race, Crime, and Community

Undergraduate (Past)

SOCA 488
Capstone: Law, Politics, and Inequality

SOCA 321
Punishment and Social Control

SOCA 319
Police Culture and Socialization

The Criminal Justice System

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