Matthew Clair is Assistant Professor of Sociology and (by courtesy) Law at Stanford University. His scholarship broadly examines how cultural meanings within organizations and institutions reflect, reproduce, and challenge various dimensions of social inequality, state violence, and injustice. His research to date has focused on inequality and violence in the criminal legal system, legal institutions, and the legal profession. He is the author of the award-winning book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Princeton University Press). Interviews about his book, sociology, and teaching and engaging with students can be found at Public Books, the New Books Network, Give Theory a Chance, and the Berkeley Journal of Sociology.
Matthew's research has been published in several academic and popular outlets, including Criminology, Social Forces, California Law Review, Law and Society Review, Du Bois Review, The Nation, Boston Review, and Public Books. His work has received awards from the American Sociological Association, the American Society of Criminology, the Law & Society Association, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems and has been supported by several grants and fellowships, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the RDCJN/Arnold Foundation small grants program. In 2022, Matthew received the American Society of Criminology's Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award and the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford University's highest teaching award.
Matthew is currently at work on three research projects: a longitudinal interview study of prospective law school students; a multi-method study and archive of court systems in the Bay Area called The Court Listening Project; and the implementation and evaluation of a "systems navigator" in the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender. Beyond his scholarship, he writes creatively, makes visual art, and enjoys skiing and tennis. He received his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. from Harvard University.