University of Pittsburgh

Faculty & Staff


Joyce Bell

PhD, University of Minnesota, 2007

Title: Assistant Professor

Campus Address: 2617 Wesley W. Posvar Hall

Telephone: (412) 648-7110


Fields of Interest

  • American Race Relations
  • Civil Rights & Black Power Movements
  • Collective behavior and social movements
  • Diversity
  • Qualitative methods (historical, ethnographic, & intensive interviewing)
  • Work, professions, and organizations



My research areas are race, social movements, and work and occupations. I am particularly interested in how social movements around issues of race shape workplaces and professions. I am currently working on a project that examines the effect of black social worker activism on the profession of social work during the Black Power Movement in the United States. I have also done work on the concept of diversity in American race relations and have ongoing projects in that area as well. 


Current Research

A new book project on the lawyers of the Black Power movement.  
Projects examining the conflict between equal access to education and freedom of speech in higher education.

Recent Publications

Forthcoming. "Maneuvers of Whiteness: 'Diversity' as a Mechanism of Retrenchment in the Affirmation Action Discourse." (with Wendy Leo Moore) Critical Sociology.           2011. "Race- Based Critical Theory and the 'Happy Talk of Diversity in America." (with Douglas Hartmann) pp. 259-277 in Illuminating Social Life, edited by Peter Kivisto.
2010. "Embodying the White Racial Frame: The (In) Significance of Barack Obama." (with Wendy Leo Moore) Journal of race and Policy, 6(1): 123-138. The Black Power Movement and American Social Work, Columbia University Press, 2014                             The Black Power movement has often been portrayed in history and popular culture as the quintessential “bad boy” of modern black movement-making in America. Yet this impression misses the full extent of Black Power’s contributions to U.S. society, especially in regard to black professionals in social work.  Relying on extensive archival research and oral history interviews, Joyce M. Bell follows two groups of black social workers in the 1960s and 1970s as they mobilized Black Power ideas, strategies, and tactics to change their national professional associations. Comparing black dissenters within the National Federation of Settlements (NFS), who fought for concessions from within their organization, and those within the National Conference on Social Welfare (NCSW), who ultimately adopted a separatist strategy, she shows how the Black Power influence was central to the creation and rise of black professional associations. She also provides a nuanced approach to studying race-based movements and offers a framework for understanding the role of social movements in shaping the non-state organizations of civil society.


SOC 0460 Minority Groups  SOC 2035 Theories of American Race Relations
SOC 1500 Capstone Research Practicum for Majors: Race and Policy 1286 Race and the City

Honors and Awards

2011 Center for the Study of Race and Social Problems Pilot Study Grant"Freedom from Racism or Free to be Racist: Racial Harassment Policy in Higher Education"
2009 Invited Attendee, University of Georgia Faculty Teaching Symposium
2008 Minnesota TRiO Achiever Award
2012 Pittsburgh New Courier Fab 40 Under 40 Award
2013 University of Pittsburgh Central Research Development Fund Grant

University Affiliations

Center on Race & Social Problems