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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Julie Beicken

M.A., University of Texas at Austin 2009

Julie Beicken


  • Phone: (512) 471-8473
  • Office: 4.614
  • Office Hours: Tuesdays 12:30-2:30 and by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: A1700


Julie Beicken is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. She successfully defended her dissertation in February of 2015 and will graduate in May.

Her current research explores the relationship between the 'War on Terror,' popular culture, and changing morality. Her dissertation, "Terrorism, Television, and Torture: Post-9/11 Morality in Popular Culture" looks at the evolving moral standards on the issue of torture since 9/11. Analyzing government documents and popular media, she explores the shift from a deontological position on torture to one of utilitarianism, paying particular attention to the changing depiction of torture on television.

In addition to looking at the evolving stance torture, Julie studies the increased use of surveillance. She attended the CRISP doctoral workshop at the Open University in the UK and presented a paper on surveillance as entertainment in television at the American Studies annual meeting in November of 2014.

Julie took her comprehensive exams in Political Sociology with a subspecialization in early twentieth century social movements, which she passed with distinction. She has taught courses in political sociology (Revolution Power Nonviolence) and criminology (Punishment and Society), as well as been a teaching assistant for numerous areas wihtin Sociology and Government (including Sociology of Sport, Deviance, Life and Death Decisions, Political Sociology, and Juvenile Delinquency).

Julie's Master's Thesis, "Eugenics: An Elite Social Movement," examined how the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century used science to legitimze its goal of 'purifying' the white race and advancing racial hygiene. With Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, she is the author of How Ethical Systems Change: Eugenics, The Final Solution, Bioethics. She has additionally published book reviews in Women's Studies International Forum and the ASA Newsletter.

Julie received a B.A. with high honors in Gender and Women's Studies from Oberlin College in 2003.



Political sociology, sociological theory, popular culture, ethics and morality, social movements

SOC 307T • Punishment And Society

46087 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm CLA 1.106
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“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote in 1862. Examining the function, methods, and particularities of punishment in a society reveals a great deal about its social relationships, inequalities, and the operation of power. This course seeks to understand the role and complexities of punishment in the United States, from colonial times to the present. It considers the types of behavior we punish, why we punish, how we punish, and whom we punish.

Through a detailed analysis of the criminal justice system, we will evaluate the approaches of the United States to crime prevention, incarceration, and dealing with terrorism. We will begin by looking at the history of punishment in the U.S. and study the birth of the modern prison. We will then consider various theories of criminology and how explanations of punishment are social in nature. From there, we will explore several important issues related to punishment: the massive growth of the prison population in the U.S. at the end of the twentieth century; private prisons; the ‘War on Drugs’ and mandatory minimums; issues for women and mothers in prison; healthcare and HIV/AIDS in prison; prison gangs and violence; capital punishment; representations of prison in popular culture; issues of innocence and wrongful convictions; and finally issues related to the ‘War on Terror:’ torture and surveillance. Through these myriad topics, we will gain insight into punishment in contemporary U.S. society.


Course Objectives


This course will enable the student to:

  • Develop an understanding of the theories behind punishment and how they have changed over time.
  • Acquire comprehension of the complex relationships between crime, punishment, and inequality.
  • Hone analytical skills regarding the relationship between theoretical concepts and empirical realities.
  • Consider the changing landscape of punishment in the twenty-first century and its relationship to the ‘War on Terror.’



Alexander, Michelle. (2010/2011) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, revised edition. New York: The New Press. ISBN: 978-1-59558-643-8. 

Welch, Michael. (2005) Ironies of Imprisonment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN: 0-7619-3059-0. 

Additional readings will be available on Canvas for download.

Grading and Requirements

Three in-class examinations (25% each), one short research paper (20%), and attendance/participation (5%).



SOC 308 • Revolution, Power, Nonviolence

46300 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm UTC 4.104
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This course considers the relationship between power, revolution and the role of violence (or lack thereof) in revolutionary movements. While the bulk of revolutions throughout history have relied on violent means to reach their goals, the Iranian Revolution of 1978-9 was the first in a series of revolutions that can be considered ‘nonviolent’—meaning that revolutionaries did not utilize violent tactics to overthrow an existing regime.

The first part of the course will examine theoretical perspectives on revolution, which are derived from studying empirical cases of revolutions throughout history. We will explore how revolutions have been explained and understood. Because revolutions involve, at least in part, the transfer of state power from one group to another, understandings of power are at the heart of the study of revolution. Thus, the second part of the course will consider different notions of power and how these relate to our understandings of revolutions. Finally, we will consider how both the exercise and transfer of power can be achieved by nonviolent means. We will look at both empirical cases and theoretical perspectives on episodes of nonviolent popular movements that have spawned great social change.


DeFronzo, James. 2011. Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements (4th edition)

Schock, Kurt. 2005. Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movements in Nondemocracies.

Additional required materials will be available on Blackboard. 




Three in-class exams 25% each

One short 3-4 page research paper 25%




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