Matthew Kaliner

Lecturer in Sociology


I study the intersection of culture and the city, focusing on arts, crime, and image or reputation. I use spatial/mapping, statistical, and ethnographic methods to better understand how culture bears on urban processes. My research has focused on Washington DC, where I grew up, and Boston, where I have lived for nearly twenty years.

I graduated from Brandeis University in 2000 with a BA in Sociology, then worked as an archivist at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study for three years, before pursuing my PhD in Sociology at Harvard University. I completed my doctorate in the Fall of 2013, and stayed on at Harvard as a Lecturer in Sociology through Fall 2017, ultimately teaching over a thousand students in sociology and general education. I was thrilled to join Wellesley as a Visiting Lecturer in the fall of 2017 and return as a full time lecturer from fall 2018, teaching courses in Sociology and Writing through spring of 2021.

For both 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years I will teach four courses in Sociology and one course in Writing:

 Sociology 210: Change the World: Social Movements in Global Perspective
 Sociology 225: Life in the Big City: Urban Studies and Urban Policy

 Sociology 211: Organizations and Society: What Sociology has to say about Management, Careers, and Strategy
 Sociology 213: Introduction to Criminology: The Idea of Crime
 Writing 168: Faked Out: Hoaxes and Conspiracies

In addition to my research and teaching, I am very engaged in the local arts community. I was appointed as the Chair of the Board of the Somerville Arts Council in 2018, and have served as a Board member of the Somerville Open Studios since 2016. When I'm not teaching, advising or conducting research at Wellesley, you can find me volunteering at various art and community festivals in Somerville, or going on bike rides around New England or jogs around Boston (my newest hobby and way to get out and experience the city).


  • B.A., Brandeis University
  • M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University

Current and upcoming courses

  • This course focuses on case studies of criminal justice systems in action, particularly during periods of stress and transition.  By exploring these cases, we will achieve two goals. The first is to introduce the main actors, institutions, roles and relationships that characterize the criminal justice system, including the police, prosecutors, judges, prisons, probation and parole officers, and the individuals involved in the juvenile justice system. The second goal is to examine the key challenges and reforms facing the criminal justice system including corruption, legitimacy and trust, effectiveness, discrimination, mass incarceration and its alternatives. We will begin with a case study of Ferguson Missouri, before turning to Boston, New York City, rural communities, and elsewhere including at least international case.