Caitlin Patler


Position Title
Assistant Professor

  • Sociology
2246 Social Sciences and Humanities Building

Caitlin Patler, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Sociology. Her research addresses the origins and reproduction of inequality in the U.S. through an examination of laws, legal statuses, and law enforcement institutions as drivers of socioeconomic and health disparities. She is particularly interested in variations and changes in legal statuses and legal positionality—e.g., gaining/losing rights, experiencing increased/decreased levels of law enforcement—and how those changes impact mobility and wellbeing. Empirically, she focuses on individuals whose lives are deeply intertwined with the law—e.g., noncitizens and individuals with immigration and/or criminal law enforcement system contact. Prof. Patler also studies the spillover and intergenerational consequences of legal vulnerability for the health and wellbeing of young adults, youth, and children.

Prof. Patler uses multiple methodologies to answer research questions, most commonly designing, fielding, and analyzing original surveys and in-depth interviews in legally vulnerable populations that are unidentifiable in secondary data. To complement these original data collection efforts, she draws from population-level survey and administrative data. Dr. Patler recently co-authored an Op-Ed in the New York Times on child detention and an Amicus Brief for the US Supreme Court summarizing empirical research on DACA.

Prof. Patler has received multiple grants and awards for her research, including support from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Sociological Initiatives Foundation, and the American Sociological Association. Prof. Patler received the 2019 Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Perspectives Award for her paper, “To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.” In 2018, she received the Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award from the ASA Latina/o Sociology Section for her paper (co-authored with Prof. Whitney L. Pirtle) for, “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?

For more information on Professor Patler, please visit her website.