Department of Sociology

Marcos Perez

M.A., The University of Texas at Austin



Marcos Perez is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology and a Graduate Fellow in the Urban Ethnography Lab. His main areas of interest are political sociology, social movement theory, civic engagement, and qualitative methods. He has performed ethnographic research on the experiences of grassroots organizers in both the United States and Latin America.

Marcos' dissertation explores the ways in which people become activists. Despite decades of progress in our understanding of collective action, we still know little about how some people develop a strong commitment to an organization or cause, while others in a similar situation do not. Based on more than 150 interviews with current and former participants in the Unemployed Worker’s Movement in Argentina, as well as participant observation of the daily routines in their organizations, Marcos argues that the reason why some individuals become increasingly attached to a movement is not simply that they agree with its ideology, but rather that they gradually begin to enjoy the routines associated with activism. These findings suggest the need for a more nuanced and complex theory of political participation, one that focuses not only on the worldviews of activists but also on their practices, paying attention to their experiences inside and outside the movement, and incorporating insights from other areas of sociology.

Marcos’ work has been supported by various grants from the University of Texas, as well as a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. He has also performed research on the lives and struggles of undocumented students in the United States. Parts of that work have been published in the book Invisible in Austin (University of Texas Press, Forthcoming), coauthored with other members of the Urban Ethnography Lab at UT.



Marcos Pérez es candidato a doctor en el Departamento de Sociología y miembro del Laboratorio de Etnografía Urbana. Sus principales áreas de investigación son la sociología política, teoría de movimientos sociales, participación ciudadana y metodología cualitativa. Ha realizado trabajo etnográfico sobre las experiencias de activistas comunitarios en América Latina y los Estados Unidos.

Su tesis explora los mecanismos por los cuales las personas se convierten en militantes. A pesar de décadas de investigación sobre acción colectiva, todavía sabemos poco acerca de cómo ocurre que algunos individuos desarrollan un fuerte compromiso con diversas organizaciones y causas, mientras que otros en una situación similar no lo hacen. Basándose en más de 150 entrevistas con miembros presentes y pasados del Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados en Argentina, así como observación participante del trabajo diario en sus organizaciones, Marcos argumenta que el motivo por el cual algunos individuos se comprometen con un movimiento no es resultado de una conversión ideológica, sino más bien del disfrute de las rutinas de la militancia. Estos resultados sugieren la necesidad de una teoría que incorpore los matices y complejidades de la participación política, centrándose no tanto en las opiniones de los activistas sino también en sus prácticas, prestando atención a la relación entre la militancia y otros aspectos de la vida de los participantes, e incorporando ideas y conceptos de otras áreas de la sociología.

La investigación llevada adelante por Marcos ha sido sostenida con diversas becas de la Universidad de Texas, así como una Beca de Investigación Doctoral de la Fundación Nacional para la Ciencia. Marcos ha realizado también trabajos sobre la vida y lucha de los estudiantes indocumentados en los Estados Unidos. Parte de esa investigación ha sido publicada en el libro Invisible in Austin (University of Texas Press, Próximamente), coautorado con otros miembros del Laboratorio de Etnografía Urbana en la Universidad de Texas.


SOC S354K • Sociology Of Health & Illness

86897 • Summer 2015
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm CLA 1.104


This course uses lectures, documentaries, and class discussions, as well as reflections of your own and others’ health and illness and representations of health and illness in the media, to understand health and illness in the US and abroad. This course will critically examine the distribution of mortality and morbidity, how health and illness are defined and socially constructed, the experiences of illness, training and hierarchies of health care workers, interactions between health care providers and patients, alternative medicine, ethical issues in health care, and health care financing. The course will have a strong focus on social inequality in each of these topics. The majority of the course will focus on health and illness in the United States but will include discussions of health and illness in other countries and regions.


The Sociology of Health, Healing, and Illness, 8th Edition by Gregory L. Weiss and Lynne E. Lonnquist

PDFs of readings on Blackboard

Grading Policy:

Two exams  70% 

Research Paper 25%

Class Participation 5%

SOC 307D • Capital Punishment In America

44863 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GDC 4.302


Why does the United States continue to use the death penalty when nearly every other industrialized Western nation has abolished its use? What explains the persistence of this type of punishment in our society? This course explores capital punishment's past, present and future in America. Using academic sources as well as journalistic case studies, we will examine how the death penalty is currently implemented in the United States and abroad, study the history of capital punishment in this country, discuss different perspectives that shed light on the issue, and explore the debates regarding the morality, legality and efficacy of the death penalty.

By the end of the semester, students will have an extensive understanding of the role that capital punishment plays in American society. Readings and class activities are intended to familiarize them with issues such as the various arguments for and against the death penalty; the changes in public opinion about the subject; the different US Supreme Court decisions on the matter; the influence of race and class in sentencing and executions; the historical legacy of lynching; and the dilemmas posed by the way capital punishment is applied today.

Required Readings and Materials: 

There is no formal text for the course. All required readings will be posted on Blackboard under “Course Documents”, organized by the date on which they are due.

Grading Policy:

The course requires students to complete two exams and write a research paper. In addition, there is a class participation component, and an extra credit assignment.

Exams: There will be two exams that will consist of multiple-choice and true-false questions. Each exam will constitute 30% of your final grade.

Research Paper: You will write a 5-8 page paper, in which you will analyze a topic related to the class. You will be required to state a main question, research the subject, and elaborate your argument in a professional style. Your grade in this assignment will represent 35% of your final grade.

Class participation: Each student is expected to contribute in a meaningful way to in-class discussions. Consequently, 5% of your final grade will be based on your participation in class.

 Extra credit assignment: Students who wish to do so can sign up for an individual presentation about their papers at the end of the semester, in which they will introduce their arguments to the class, and answer questions from their peers and instructor. This is an optional assignment which adds up to 5 points (out of 100) to your final grade. 

Curriculum Vitae

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  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    CLA 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086