Susan Silbey

Leon and Anne Goldberg Humanities Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Susan Silbey is the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, and professor of sociology and anthropology. She is also past president of the Law & Society Association, and a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Prof. Silbey received her PhD in political science from the University of Chicago and post-graduate training in ethnography in the Sociology Department of Brandeis University. She has written about the social organization of law in diverse institutional and informal settings including attorney general’s offices, courts, schools, private homes, businesses and scientific laboratories; she has also studied alternative forms of dispute resolution including negotiation and mediation. She has edited Studies in Law, Politics and Society (1990-1997) and the Law & Society Review (1998-2000). In 1998, she published The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life (with Patricia Ewick) describing the ways in which Americans imagine, use, and construct the rule of law, in 2003, In Litigation: Do the ‘Haves’ Still Come Out Ahead? (edited with Herbert Kritzer), and in 2008 Law and Science I, Epistemological, Evidentiary, and Relational Engagements, and Law and Science II, Regulation of Property, Practices, and Products.

Prof. Silbey’s current research looks at the roles and conceptions of law in scientific laboratories, comparing the place of law in expert communities and popular culture, with special attention to the ways in which complex technological organizations observe and govern themselves. She is supervising an experiment in ethnographic fieldwork on the development of new safety regimes in research labs. In addition, she is completing a six-year longitudinal study of engineering education, following a cohort of students through four different engineering schools.

MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307