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, 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?

In the Spring of 2021, I had the great honor of serving on the Steering Committee of the Coalition to Reimagine Public Safety, a joint venture of the Alliance for Police Accountability and 1Hood Media. 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.

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 sociology, my work is in conversation with scholarship in political science, international relations, geography, and Middle East studies. Most of my work focuses on the reconstruction of the police force within Iraqi Kurdistan, drawing from a large number of interviews and extended ethnographic observations, as well as a recent experimental survey. The goal of the work is to not only understand the narrow question of how police reconstruction actually works on the ground, but also larger questions of how police are designed to fulfill political projects, how the modern state wields its power, and how imperialism operates in contemporary international relations.

My other lines of work touch on similar issues through different lenses, ranging from the study of American police training regimes to looking at how the Islamic State is attempting to sell itself to prospective members. 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)

Sixty Years of Police Socialization: A review of the literature on police socialization from the 1960’s to today

Conti, Norm and Jesse Wozniak chapter in Police Training Inside-Out (Routledge, forthcoming)

“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 (submission expected Fall 2021)

“Legal Decision-Making in Iraqi Kurdistan”

Wozniak, Jesse, Gabrielle Ferrales, and Wenjie Liao (submission expected Fall 2021)


Interview and Ethnographic Data Analysis

Ferrales, Gabrielle, Jesse Wozniak, and Wenjie Liao (data analysis)

Most Recent Publications

All Publications

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

The Social Science Journal DOI: 10.1080/03623319.2020.1727242
Wozniak, Jesse, Joshua Woods, and Yan Song Lee

“‘The blackness that incriminated me’: Stigma and Normalization among Brothers and Keepers”

Forthcoming at Kalfou
Adam Burston, Jesse Wozniak, and Norman Conti

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

Forthcoming at The Police Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles
Burston, Adam, Norman Conti, Jesse Wozniak, and Elaine Frantz

Media Appearances

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

Classes Taught

Spring 2021

SOCA 319
Police Culture and Socialization

SOCA 488
Capstone: Law, Politics, and Inequality

How to be Anti-Racist

Fall 2020

SOCA 721
Qualitative Methods

SOCA 488
Capstone: Law, Politics, and Inequality

Graduate (Past)

SOCA 610
Advanced General Sociology

SOCA 721
Qualitative 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