Harel Shapira

Dr Harel Shapira

Nationality: American

Lives in: Austin, USA


Dr Harel Shapira is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Waiting for José (Princeton 2013) and is currently completing a book on contemporary gun culture in the United States.

Shapira received his PhD, with distinction, from Columbia University, and his B.A., with honors, from the University of Chicago. His research has been supported by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.          


Personal statement

I use ethnographic methods to study political identity in contemporary America, with an emphasis on right wing politics. While our tendency has been to understand political identity by focusing on its ideological dimensions – that is, people’s beliefs and attitudes, I compliment this approach by focusing on practices. My interest is on the things that people do and the worlds that people create, when they engage in politics.

Although my research is based in America, it is clear – from the election of Donald Trump to Brexit to the recent successes of far-right parties across Europe – that we are witnessing a global transformation in terms of how people think about and engage in politics. These responses require that we think about inequality not only in terms of its various dimensions – economic, racial, gender -- but also as at once an objective and symbolic dimension of social life. That is, the current political moment requires that we think about how people subjectively make sense of inequality and how those definitions translate into political behaviour.

As an Atlantic Fellow I will seek to help advance our understanding of inequality through research that considers how contemporary inequality informs contemporary politics.