John Grady

Professor of Sociology, Emeritus


Ph.D., Brandeis University (Sociology)
A.M., Yale University (Anthropology)
A.B., Boston College (English, Asian Studies)


I am interested in using a wide array of information — testimony, material culture, numerical information and images — to understand how our institutions developed, are organized and what their study tells us about the kinds of people we are becoming. Are cities livable? How should health care be improved? How important is technology for addressing our environmental problems? What makes work rewarding and can it be balanced with our other obligations to our families and communities? How familiar do we have to be with statistics to make sense of how the world is structured and where it is headed? It is questions like these that inform and infuse my teaching and research.


Selected Articles and Book Chapters

Forthcoming “Numbers, Graphs and Social Analysis” in Luc Pauwels (ed) Sage Handbook of Visual Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

2017(a) “Towards a Filmic Sociology: a Personal Essay” pamphlet produced by the International Visual Sociology Association and the Journal of Visual Ethnography.

2017(b)  “Review of Luc Pauwel’s Reframing Visual Social Science: Towards a More Visual Sociology and Anthropology” Visual Studies, Volume 32, Number 2: 200-204.

2017(c) “Review of Rick Helmes-Hayes and Marco Santoro (eds.) The Anthem Companion to Everett HughesCanadian Journal of Sociology/ Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie Volume 42, Number 4: 451-458.

2016(a) “Review of Sherry Ortner’s Not Hollywood: Independent Film at the Twilight of the American Dream” Visual Studies, Volume 31, Number 2: 166-168 (published online 26 March, 2015).

2016(b) “Review of David Hackett Fischer’s Liberty and Freedom” Visual Studies, Volume 31, Number 2: 164-165 (published online 17 April, 2015).

2015 “Visual Methods” in George Ritzer (ed) The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd edition. Blackwell Publications: London. Published on-line October 2015.

2014 Visualizing Trends and Clusters in Ranked Time-Series Data. In Visualization and Data Analysis 2014 (San Francisco, 2014), P. C. Wong, D.L. Kao, M.C. Hao, and C. Chen, Eds., vol. 9017, IS&T/SPIE, pp. 90710f-1 — 90710f-12. (Junior author with Michael Gousie and Laura Branagan).

2013(a) “Forward” in Arnold Arluke and  Lauren Rolfe The Photographed Cat: Picturing Close Human-Feline Ties, 1900-1940. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

2013(b) “Real Photo Postcards: A Review Essay” Visual Studies 28:1, 84-89.

2011 “Turning Numbers into Pictures: Visualization in Social Analysis” in Eric Margolis and Luc Pauwels (eds) Sage Handbook of Visual Research Methods.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 494-529.

2010 “Exploring Society Visually”: Visual Essays and Slideshows to accompany Dalton Conley’s You May Ask Yourself, Kerry Ferris and Jill Stein’s The Real
World, and Anthony Giddens et. al. Introduction to Sociology, all published by W.W. Norton.

  • “Unintended Consequences”
  • “What do we celebrate today?
  • “Young people and altruism?”
  • “Who are our superstars and what do they want from us?”
  • “Good people and dirty work”
  • “Is women’s work still never ending?”
  • “How are whites’ racial attitudes changing?”
  • “How have kids’ worlds changed?”
  • “Do Americans support civil liberties?
  • “Occupational prestige in cartoons”
  • “Contemporary shrines”
  • “Can chronic conditions be solved?”
  • “Is sex out of control?”
  • “Girly Girl”
  • “Is demography destiny?”

2009(a) “Review of Louie Palu Cage Call,” Visual Studies, Volume 24,3: 178-181.

2009(b) “World in Change Series: Eleven Sociological Vignettes”, in Anthony Giddens, Mitchell Duneier, Richard Appelbaum and Deborah Carr. Introduction to Sociology, 7th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.(graphing evidence, 38-39; dorm rooms and socialization, 102-103; communication and cell phones, 122-123; how tough is it in the bottom fifth?, 234-235; global inequality, 268-269; gender norms, 284-285; white racial images and attitudes, 322-323;kids in cartoon, 466-467; how secular are we?, 536-537; self-reflections, 568-569)

2008(a) “Visual Research at the Crossroads” Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Volume 9,3. Reprinted as “Badania wizualne na rozdrozu” in Przeglad Socjologii Jakosciowej (Qualitative Sociology Review), 2009 Tom V Numer 2: 82-117.

2008(b) “Using Metaphors in Dynamic Social Stratification Visualizations” in IV08: 12th International Conference on Information Visualization (London) with Gousie, M.B., Burrage, B., Grossman, R., Machado, D., Milewski, S., and Stuetzle, C.

2007(a) “Advertising Images As Social Indicators: Depictions Of Blacks In LIFE Magazine (1936-2000)” Visual Studies, Volume 22, No.3: 211-239.

2007(b) Advertising Images of Blacks: LIFE Magazine (1936-2000). FileMakerPro Database of every advertising image that contains a black figure or representation. Available from for cost of production and shipping.

2007(c) “Photographs as Answers” Visual Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1: 85-94 With Richard Chalfen, Patrizia Faccioli, Doug Harper, Pino Lossacco and Charles Suchar.

2007(d) “Surprise and Discovery: Using GIS to Explore Social Diversity in Contemporary America” in D. Sinton and J Lund (eds) Understanding Place: GIS and Mapping Across the Curriculum. ESRI Press: Redland (CA): 83-96.

2007(e) “Visual Sociology” in Clifton D. Bryant and Dennis L. Peck (eds) 21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook, Volume 2. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks (CA): 63-70.

2007(f) “Visual Methods” in George Ritzer (ed) The Encyclopedia of Sociology. Blackwell Publications: London: 2286-2289.

2006 “Edward Tufte and the Promise of a Visual Social Science”, in Luc Pauwels (ed) Visual Cultures of Science. University Press of New England: Hanover: 222-265.

2004 “Working with Visible Evidence: An Invitation and Some Practical Advice,” In Caroline Knowles and Paul Sweetman (eds.) Picturing the Social Landscape: Visual Methods and the Sociological Imagination. Routledge: London. Pps. 18-31.

2003(a) “Putting Animals in the Picture” Visual Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2. pps. 92-95, With Jay Mechling.

2003(b) “Review of Origins of the European Economy by Michael McCormick” Visual Studies, Volume 18, No. 2: pp. 192-195.

2002 “Toward a More Humanistic Environmentalism” in The Future of Life by E.O. Wilson and Four Essays by Wheaton Faculty. Norton, MA, Wheaton College: pps. 13-19.

2001(a) “The Missing Context of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman and Eight Essays by Wheaton Faculty. Norton, MA,Wheaton College: pps. 19-23

2001(b) “Becoming a Visual Sociologist,” Sociological Imagination (Vol. 38:2-3), pps. 81 126.Click for more info about selected articles.

2001(c) “Sociology’s New Workshop: the Visual Challenge to Sociology”, Sociological Imagination (Vol. 38:2-3), pps 3-5.

1999 “Conclusioni: le Potenzialita della Sociologia Visual,” (expanded version of “The Scope of Visual Sociology” translated by Federica Maselli) in Patrizia Faccioli and Doug Harper (eds.) Mondi Da Vedere: Verso Una Sociologia Pi Pisuale. Franco Agnelli: Bologna: 491-524.

1998 “Towards a Quantitative Visual Social Science: The Vision of Edward Tufte,” Visual Sociology, Vol. 13, No. 1: 74-84.

1996 “The Scope of Visual Sociology,” Visual Sociology, Vol. 11, No. 2: 10-24.

1991 “The Visual Essay and Sociology,” Visual Sociology, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 23-38.

Creative Works

Selected Films, Videos and Slide Show

2004 The New Collective. 18 minutes. A video directed and edited by Nicole LaFreniere ’04; Cinematographer: John Grady

1995 Just a Fight: The Place of Violence in Men’s Lives. A video production by Cine Research Associates. 15 minutes. Producer and Director.

1990 Home-Care: Elderly and Disabled. A video production by Cine Research Associates. 30 minutes. Producer and Director.

1987 Love Stories: Women, Men and Romance. A documentary film by Cine Research Associates. 88 minutes, color. Producer and Research Associate. Click for more information about selected films.

1986 The Collective: Fifteen Years Later. A video production by Cine Research Associates. 60 minutes. Executive Producer and Research Director. Click for more information about selected films.

1983 Water and the Dream of the Engineers. A documentary film by Cine Research Associates. 80 minutes, color. Executive Producer and Research Director. Click for more information about selected films.

1982 Down the Projects: The Crisis of Public Housing. A documentary film by Cine Research Associates. 60 minutes, black and white. Executive Producer and Research Coordinator. Click for more information about selected films.

1979 Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston. A documentary film by Cine Research Associates. 60 minutes, black and white. Producer and Research Associate. Click for more information about selected films.

1988 Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: Seven Vietnam Veterans. Co-authored with Janice Rogovin.

1987 The Fight for Newton Corner. Senior editor and production associate with Jon Chase.


2017  Presenter of Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston 1979); The Collective: Fifteen Years Later (1986), and The New Collective (2004), a film by Nicole Lafreniere ’04 and John Grady.” International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Concordia College, Montreal (various times).

2012  Presenter and Discussant at showings of Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston and Down The Projects: the Crisis of Public Housing. International Visual Sociology Association Conference. Saint Francis College, Brooklyn, NY. (July 8-10).

Recent Papers and Conferences

2017(a) “Erving Goffman’s Encounter with Human Ethology: Gender Advertisements Revisited.” International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Concordia College, Montreal (June 20th).

2017(b) “What Sociology can Glean from a More Filmic Sociology”, address to The Filmic Sociology of John Grady: a Tribute and Retrospective. International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Concordia College, Montreal (June 21).

2016 “Are Visual Narratives Possible?” International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Lillehammer University College, Norway (June 25).

2015 “The Social Structure of the Hollywood Pantheon and Its Surprise” International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Cultural Foundation of Tinos, Greece (June 26).

2014(a) “The History of Future of Visual Sociology” Panel discussion with Doug Harper, Jon Rieger, Charles Suchar and Jon Wagner. (June 25).

2014(b) “Ethnographic films and Actuality, is there a problem?” contribution to panel discussion: “The Challenge of Sociological Filmmaking” Panel discussion with Joe Lukawski, David Redmon, Greg Scott and Jon Wagner. (June 26).

2014(c) Lecturer “The World on a Screen: a Series of Six Lectures”, Norton Institute for Continuing Education, Norton (MA), March-April.

2013(a) “Visualizing the Hollywood Pantheon of Stars” International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Goldsmith’s College, University of London, London (July 11). (Principal author with Mike Gousie and Laura Branagan)

2013(b) “The Power of Movies” Sharon Community Center, Sharon MA. October 16.

2012(a) “Community Response to Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston: 1979-2012”,  International Visual Sociology Association Conference, Saint Francis College, Brooklyn, NY. (July 10).

2012(b) Lecturer “The Power of Movies: a Series of Six Lectures”, Norton Institute for Continuing Education at Wheaton College. March-April.

2011 “In Sight: Visualizing Relationships in Daily Life” International Visual Sociology Association Conference, University of British Columbia. Vancouver (Canada). (July 8). Click for more info about selected articles

2010 “The Single-Panel Cartoon and the Comic Mode in Society” InternationalVisual Sociology Association Conference, University of Bologna (Italy). (July 20).  Click for more info about selected articles

2009(a) “Erving Goffman’s Contribution to the Social Analysis of Advertising Images” Keynote Address at Nordic Visual Studies Workshop on “The Visual Presentation of Self”, University of Reykjavik,Iceland, (November 25)

2009(b) “The Place of Narrative in Visual Social and Cultural Research” Department of Communications, University of Antwerp (May 14).

2009(c) “Social Science and the Study of Advertising Images: The Development of Racial Iconography in America” Department of Sociology, University of Antwerp (May 13).

2009(d) “Trends, Anomalies, and Period Effects in Advertising Imagery”, Department of Sociology, Tulane University, New Orleans (January 13).

2007(a) “Visual Research at the Crossroads,” keynote address delivered at Qualitative Analysis of Visual Data, European Science Foundation Workshop on Visual Methods, Berlin, September 18.

2007(b) “Future of Visual Sociology”, International Visual Sociology Association Conference, New York University, August 11.

2007(c) “Visual Sociology and the City: The Case of Mission Hill”, EUREX (European Online Seminar on Urban Transformation, Poverty, Spatial Segregation and Social Exclusion) 2007: Changing Cities hosted by the University of Urbino, Italy, April 24.

2006 “Telling Stories with Numbers”, International Visual Sociology Association Conference, University of Urbino, Italy, July 5.

Teaching Interests

Visual Sociology; Quantitative Sociology as Narrative; Geographic Information Systems (GIS); Sociology of Medicine; Sociology of Work; Technology, Society and the Environment; Film and Society.

Research Interests

Professor Grady’s research focuses on the impact and significance that the material world of nature and human artifacts has on social organization and daily life; the use of visual imagery in social research and analysis; and making documentary films. He was President of the International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA). He was a Visiting Scholar at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, (, and is the New Media Editor for the journal Visual Studies