Tarun Banerjee, PhD


2613 WW Posvar Hall


As a sociologist, I want to know how power works: who has it? what do they do with it? who doesn’t have it? and how can those without power get it? I have two broad lines of research: i) public policy and the power structure. Here, I study those with power to answer questions about how public policy is made, how business influences policy, and the effects of this on the democratic process. I also study ii) social movements and change, to understand how people without power organize collectively to get it. What tactics do and don’t work when people are shut out of formal positions of power? And specifically how does the world we live in today—one dominated by gigantic corporations and endless money in elections—change the strategies ordinary people can use to organize for change?

I am involved in a number of projects in these areas including a book out this summer on public policy and social change called Levers of Power: How the 1% Rules, and What the 99% Can Do About It (with two fabulous colleagues, Kevin A. Young and Michael Schwartz); a large-scale project on the revolving door between Congress and paid lobbyists; as well as other papers on the Civil Rights movement and the War on Poverty; corporate social responsibility; media coverage and its impact on social change; and how large corporations navigated the social movement upsurge that resulted from the 2008 financial crisis.

As a researcher, I believe sociology is an applied science and its application ought to be towards enabling positive social change. That is, it is our moral and professional duty to do research that matters for the public good. As a teacher, I strive to inculcate in my students an appreciation for the intricate (and often hidden) social forces that shape our lives and to see that a sociological understanding can help us organize for a better world. I teach graduate and/or undergraduate classes around topics such as social movements, organizations, social problems, research methods, and statistics.

Fields of Interest

  • Public policy
  • Social movements
  • Organizations
  • Corporate political behavior
  • Social networks
  • Media


  • PhD, SUNY- Stony Brook, 2015

Global Capital and the Paris Climate Accord: Business Mobilization and Barriers to a Comprehensive Global Climate Framework

Social Movement Targeting and Policy Outcomes: The Civil Rights Movement and Anti-poverty Funding in the U.S. South, 1965-1971

Social Movement Successes and the Global Embeddedness of U.S. Firms: A Bifurcation of the Corporate Elite?

When Women Lead: Gender Composition of Corporate Boards and Firm Receptiveness to Social Movement Demands

Class Dominance or Fracturing? Sources of Broad Interest in Lobbying by Fortune 500 Corporations

The Revolving Door in the Halls of Congress: Business Influence and Congressional Lobbying

Organized for Crisis: The Great Recession of 2008 and Corporate Adaptation to Social Movement Protest

Levers of Power: How the 1% Rules and What the 99% Can Do About It

The Leverage of Protest: Market, Media, and Reputational Disruption in Social Movement Success

Capital Strikes as a Corporate Political Strategy: The Structural Power of Business in the Obama Era

The Collective Interests of Large Corporations: Social Movement Protest and the Policy-Planning Network

Responsible for Whom? The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Firm Vulnerability and Responsiveness to Social Movement Demands

Social movements
Organizations (graduate)
Social problems
Introduction to sociology
American society
Research methods
Statistics (graduate)

Central Research Development Fund Research Grant. (University of Pittsburgh)

Faculty-Student Collaborative Research Award - with Mitchell Kiefer (Department of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh)

Outstanding Author Contribution, Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence (Emerald Group Publishing)

Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (National Science Foundation)

Michael Schwartz Award for Excellence in Sociology (Stony Brook University)

The American Sociological Association’s Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Award supported by the American Sociological Association and the National Science Foundation (Rebekah Burroway and Michael Schwartz)

Best Graduate Student Paper Award - Conflict, Social Action, and Change (Society for the Study of Social Problems)

Honorable Mention, Mayer Zald Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award (American Sociological Association – Collective Behavior and Social Movements)