J Sterphone

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology


Ph.D. (2022) Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A. (2017) Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A. (2012) Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara


J Sterphone received their Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Their research explores how members of society (re)produce social categories and manage actions that are accountable by virtue of the category memberships of relevant participants. In their dissertation, they examined the development and co constitution of racial and national categories in Germany. Their book project, developed from this dissertation, synthesizes ethnomethodologically-informed historical and conversation analytic methods to analyze the racialization of religious and national categories in Germany beginning in the German imperial era.

Their work on racial categories and nationalist-populist politics in Germany has been published in Patterns of Prejudice, German Politics & Society, and Journal of Sociolinguistics. Work on US racial formations and the development of the binary racial order can be found forthcoming in an entry in the Routledge Encyclopedia on Race and Racism co-authored with G. Reginald Daniel, as well as in a book co-authored with Rebecca Romo and G. Reginald Daniel that is under contract and currently under review with University of Nebraska Press. Additional work on the mutual co-constitution of category and action has been published in Language and Communication They are also a former visiting Fulbright Fellow at Universität Bielefeld.


Sterphone, J. 2022. “Complaining by category: managing social categories and action ascriptions in war game interactions.” Language & Communication 84: 46-60.

Sterphone, J. 2022. “Negotiating the Mainstream: Mitigated Rejections of Far-Right Policy Proposals in Bundestag Debates.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 26(3): 335-361.

Sterphone, J. 2021. “On the relevance and consequentiality of Muslim as a social category in pre-unification Germany.” Patterns of Prejudice 54(4): 367-391.

Sterphone, J. 2021. “The New Nationalism? Antecedents of the Alternative für Deutschland’s Islamfeindlichkeit [Islamophobia].” German Politics and Society 38(4): 28-50.

Daniel, G. Reginald and Joseph Sterphone. 2019. “Shame, Anti-Semitism, and Hitler’s Rise to Power in Germany.” EC Psychology and Psychiatry 8(5): 334-345.

Scheff, Thomas J., G. Reginald Daniel, and Joseph Sterphone. 2018. “Shame and a theory of war and violence.”Aggression and Violent Behavior, 39: 109-115.

Chapters in Edited Volumes

Daniel, G. Reginald and J SterphoneIn press. “Hypodescent,” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, Matthew Hughey and Michael Rosino, eds. New York: Routledge.

Sterphone, Joseph. 2019. “‘Mut zu Deutschland!’ [Courage for Germany] On the National Populism of Alternative für Deutschland”, pp. 99-115 in Populist Nationalism in Europe and the Americas, Fernando Lopez-Alves and Diane Johnson, eds. New York: Routledge.


Teaching Interests

As an instructor, I most enjoy engaging students flexibly across disciplinary and topical boundaries. Sociology was not built from thin air, but by borrowing from and leaning on other disciplines. So, too, must we lean on others in order to develop our own understanding of the social world! No matter the course, though, you can expect that we will be engaging with course materials empirically—looking to see what people do in the world and how they accomplish it. Unsurprisingly, you might expect to find some interactional sociology seeping into any course you take with me in one way or another, even if that is simply an invitation to remember that for all the power social structure has, we are still agents making decisions in the world!

This fall, I will be teaching Introduction to Sociology and Special Topics in Inequality (“From Enslavement to Abolition”). If you’re interested in my Spring 2023 courses, working with me on a project, or discussing anything about sociology with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out or stop by my office!

Research Interests

My research interests are specifically focused on the interactional (re)production of social life in all of its expressions. The majority of my recent projects have focused on practices through which members of society reproduce and manage the implications of race/ism, both in everyday life and in institutional contexts, like parliament or congress. My work has traditionally been qualitative, though I have published using multiple different qualitative approaches, including historical methods, discursive analysis, observational methods, and conversation analysis. I also have ongoing projects looking at more “mundane” activities, including the accomplishment of boardgame playing and interventions into disputes.





Knapton Hall 301


Fall 2023 - Wednesday 11am - 12pm, 2pm - 4pm