Professor, Department of Global Development
Thomas Hirschl's scholarly focus is on social class differentiation in contemporary society. He is currently working on a new method for measuring social class by developing a life course approach to identify the economic, social, and health correlates of social class.
His research is motivated by the insight that social class differentiation is at the center of development in contemporary society. Hirschl's current work focuses on a new methods for measuring social class using a "life course " approach operationalized with longitudinal data. He also examines how individuals subjectively experience economic hardship and economic success over their life course, how they perceive and conceptualize these experiences in social ideological terms, including religious interpretations of the social world.
Outreach and Extension Focus
As coordinator of the Program Work Team on Poverty and Economic Hardship Hirschl works with educators, community leaders, and service providers to find new ways to fight poverty. They seek to identify new knowledge and policies to meet the challenge of higher poverty rates in the 21st Century.
He directs the Teen Assessment Program which serves youth and youth service providers by scientifically identifying youth social behavior and finding ways to modify behavior in order to achieve positive youth development. A survey of approximately 2,622 youth was conducted in Madison County and this survey involved school officials in 10 public school districts, and many volunteer survey administrators, and the Madison County Youth Bureau. The survey results are now being disseminated and various public fora are planned to discuss and utilize the results.
One of the great paradoxes of the modern world is technological progress alongside social crisis. How is it that modern human societies simultaneously embody technological progress and social crisis? Under what conditions might technological progress translate into social progress? These questions, and related questions, speak to the heart of the discipline of sociology, and are directly addressed in his instruction. Hirschl focuses upon core concepts social scientists use to explain and understand society, and provide interpretation and data on key social questions that face the nation and the world.
- Hirschl, Thomas A. and George A. Spisak. 2020. “Is a new structurally dispossessed class developing in the United States?” British Journal of Sociology.
- Berry, P. G., & Hirschl, T. A. (2017). Non-metro versus metro poverty in the transition to adulthood in the United States: (1980–2009). Journal of Rural Studies. 54:76-84.
- Hirschl, T. A., & Rank, M. R. (2015). The life course dynamics of affluence. PLOS One. 10:e0116370.
- Rank, M. R., & Hirschl, T. A. (2015). The Likelihood of Experiencing Relative Poverty over the Life Course. PLOS One. 10:e0133513.
- Rank, M. R., & Hirschl, T. A. (2014). The risk of developing a work disability across the adulthood years. Disability and Health Journal. 7:189-195.
- Hirschl, T. A., Rank, M. R., & Kusi-Appouh, D. (2011). Ideology and the Experience of Poverty Risk: Views about Poverty within a Focus Group Design. Journal of Poverty. 15:350-370.
- Hirschl, T. A., & Rank, M. R. (2010). Home Ownership Across the American Life Course: Estimating the Racial Divide. Race and Social Problems. 2:125-136.
- Hirschl, T. A., Sandoval, D. A., Rank, M. R., & , (2009). The Increasing Risk of Poverty Across the American Life Course. Demography. 46:717–737.
- Rank, M. R., & Hirschl, T. A. (2009). Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 163:994-999.
- Hirschl, T. A., Booth, J., & Glenna, L. L. (2009). The Link Between Voter Choice and Religious Identity in Contemporary Society: Bringing Classical Theory Back In. Social Science Quarterly. 90:927-944.
Presentations and Activities
- The life course dynamics of affluence. Annual meeting of the Population Association of America. April 2016. Population Association of America. Chicago.
- Chasing the American Dream. Annual Meeting Chemung County Public Leaders. November 2015. Cornell Cooperative Extension. Elmira, NY.
- Doctorate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1986
- Master of Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1980
- Bachelor of Science, Purdue University, 1976
Demography, Social Stratification, Ideology
Poverty, Social Policy, Community Action
Youth Development, Social Behavior
Awards & Honors
- Named to Who's Who in America 2001 Marquis Who's Who
- Outstanding Research Award 2001 Society for Social Work and Research
- Award for work with New York Teen Assessment Program 1994 Cornell Community and Rural Development Institute
- International Sociology Honor Society 1991 Alpha Kappa Delta
- DSOC 4990: Independent Research in Development Sociology
- DSOC 4970: Independent Study in Development Sociology
- DSOC 1101: Introduction to Sociology
- DSOC 4980: Teaching Experience in Development Sociology
260 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
tah4 [at] cornell.edu
Thomas in the news
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development
- Health + Nutrition
Rebekah Jones ’20 grew up in Queens, New York, observing the everyday lives of New Yorkers. This sparked her enthusiasm for social science research. After completing a social science research-oriented program in high school, Jones applied to...
- Development Sociology
- Global Development