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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Sociology & Criminology


Faculty & Staff

Peter Adler

Peter Adler

Peter Adler

Professor Emeritus
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areas of expertise/research interests

Ethnography; Deviant Behavior/Criminology; Sociology of Sport; Social Psychology (Symbolic Interactionism); Sociology of Drugs; Sociology of Childhood and Youth

professional biography

Peter Adler, Professor Emeritus, received his PhD in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego, in 1980. He is the author, along with his wife, Patti, of over 100 scholarly articles and chapters, as well as several books, including Momentum, Membership Roles in Field Research, Backboards & Blackboards, Peer Power, and Paradise Laborers and The Deviance Society (in Italian). His most recent book, The Tender Cut, was released in 2011 by NYU Press, which was awarded Honorable Mention for the Cooley Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) for outstanding book of the year (2012), as well as from the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS; 2013). He is also the co-editor of Constructions of Deviance (7th edition, 2011), Sociological Odyssey (4th edition, 2013), Drugs and the American Dream (1st edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (V. 1), and The Social Dynamics of Financial Markets. For eight years, he served as editor of the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and he was the founding editor of the research annual, Sociological Studies of Child Development. In 1997-98, he was selected as the Distinguished University Lecturer at the University of Denver, one of the highest honors that the University bestows on its faculty, and in 2005, the University named him the United Methodist Church Scholar/Teacher of the Year. Also in 2005, he was given the Excellence in Mentoring Award by the SSSI. In 2006-2007, Professor Adler was Co-President of the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS). In 2010, the SSSI honored him, along with Patti, with the George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement. His students have won such prestigious awards as the Blumer Award from SSSI, and the outstanding undergraduate papers from the Midwest Sociological Society, Pacific Sociological Society, and Alpha Kappa Delta. In 2011-12, he was included in Who's Who in America. His areas of specialization include qualitative methods, social psychology, sociology of work, sport, and leisure, deviant behavior, and sociology of children. He has taught courses in race and ethnicity, sociology of sport, deviant behavior, sociology of drugs, ethnographic methods, symbolic interactionism, as well as introduction to sociology. 


PhD   Sociology, University of California, San Diego, 1980
MA    Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 1974
AB     Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis, 1973 

selected publications

Drugs and the American Dream (2012); The Tender Cut (2011); Paradise Laborers (2004); Peer Power (1998); Backboards and Blackboards (1991); Membership Roles in Field Research (1987); Momentum (1980)