Michèle Lamont

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Michèle Lamont (born 1957 in Toronto, Ontario[1]) is a sociologist and is the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and a Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Harvard University. She served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association from 2016–2017.[2] In 2017, she received the Erasmus Prize[3] and was awarded 3 honorary doctorates (from University of Ottawa, Université de Bordeaux and University of Amsterdam).[4] She has 3 children: Gabriel Lamont-Dobbin, Chloe Lamont-Dobbin, and Pierre Lamont-Dobbin.

Michèle Lamont
Michèle Lamont (2017)
Born1957 (age 62–63)
ChildrenGabriel Lamont-Dobbin, Chloe Lamont Dobbin, Pierre Lamont Dobbin
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
Doctoral studentsCrystal Marie Fleming


Lamont completed her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in political theory at the University of Ottawa in 1979. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in sociology from the French university of La Sorbonne in 1983 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University from 1983–1985. Lamont served as professor at the University of Texas-Austin (1985–1987), Princeton University (1987–2003), and Harvard University (2003–present).

Since 2002, Lamont has served as co-director of the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.[5] The interdisciplinary program brings together leading social scientists who meet three times a year to discuss how societies met various types of challenges. The group has produced two books: Successful Societies: How Institutions and Culture Affect Health[6] (2009) and Social Resilience in the Neo-Liberal Era[7] (2013). Both books were co-edited with Peter A. Hall [de] and published by Cambridge University Press.

In 2009 and 2010, Lamont served as Senior Advisor on Faculty Development and Diversity in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. In July 2015 Lamont began a five-year mandate to serve as director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA).[8] This center is among the largest social science centers at Harvard.

Lamont has been a visiting professor at various institutions including the Collège de France, SciencesPo, Université de Paris 8, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Mainz University, and Tel Aviv University. She has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Studies at Stanford University, the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a fellow of the Russell Sage Foundation. From 2006–2009 she chaired the Council for European Studies and is the recipient of several scholarly awards and distinctions for her research and services.

Contributions to sociologyEdit

Lamont’s major works compare how people's shared concepts of worth influence and sustain a variety of social hierarchies and inequality. She is concerned with the role of various cultural processes in the creation and reproduction of inequality. Some of her most recent publications include: the Erasmus Prize-winning essay, Prisms of Inequality: Moral Boundaries, Exclusion, and Academic Evaluation; her latest book, Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel; and her presidential address to the ASA (ASR June 2018). She currently serves on various scientific boards including: American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) and Nordic Centre for Research on Gender Equality in Research and Innovation (NORDICORE).[4]

Lamont’s early writing formulated influential criticisms of the work of Pierre Bourdieu, a leading sociologist with whom she studied in Paris. Her first book, Money, Morals, Manners,[9] showed that Bourdieu’s theories of cultural capital and habitus ignore moral status signals and national repertoires that explain differences in American and French class cultures. This criticism set the stage for a large American literature that was critical of, but built upon, the work of Bourdieu. This movement coincided with the development of cultural sociology in American sociology. With fellow sociologists Ann Swidler, Michael Schudson, and numerous others, Lamont contributed to setting the agenda for the scholarly study of "meaning-making" in sociology. The research of Lamont and colleagues demonstrated the importance of considering various aspects of culture as explanans and explanandum in the social sciences as something more than a "residual category".

Lamont’s distinction between "symbolic" and "social" boundaries provides a framework within which to analyze the independent causal role of individual's worldviews in explaining structural phenomena such as inequality. Symbolic boundaries are "conceptual distinctions made by social actors ... that separate people into groups and generate feelings of similarity and group membership."[10] Conversely, "social boundaries are objectified forms of social differences manifested in unequal access to an unequal distribution of resources… and social opportunities."[11] In making this distinction, Lamont acknowledges that symbolic boundaries are a "necessary but insufficient" condition for social change. "Only when symbolic boundaries are widely agreed upon can they take on a constraining character… and become social boundaries."[11]

Lamont’s work has applied the "boundary-work" framework to the case of American and French race relations. In her award-winning[12] Dignity of Working Men, Lamont shows how white and African-American conceptions of class are grounded in vastly different conceptions of self-worth. In a new collaborative project that grew out of this research, Lamont is comparing how stigmatized groups respond to ethnoracial exclusion in the United States, Brazil, and Israel.

In her 2009 book, How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment, Lamont analyzes how experts in the social sciences and the humanities debate what defines originality, social and intellectual significance, and more. It also analyzes the place of the self, emotion and interaction in evaluation. This book has influenced current debates on funding, evaluation, and audit culture in the United States and Europe.[13] Of particular interest is the question of whether social sciences should be evaluated with different criteria than the sciences. With this book, Lamont has launched a broader program in the sociology of evaluation (including her 2012 paper "Toward a Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation"[14]), which also links to the growing interest in the sociology of valuation.

Awards and honorsEdit

Lamont has received the following awards for her scholarly work:

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • Lamont, Michèle; Moraes Silva, Graziella; Welburn, Jessica S.; Guetzkow, Joshua; Mizrachi, Nissim; Herzog, Hanna; Reislast, Elisa (2017). Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-16707-7.
  • Lamont, Michele (1992). Wolfe, Alan (ed.). Money, Morals and Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class. Morality and Society series. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-674-00992-9.
  • Lamont, Michele (2002). The Dignity of Working Men: Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class, and Immigration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press and New York: Russell Sage Foundation. ISBN 978-0-674-00992-9.
  • Lamont, Michele (2009). How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-05733-3.


  1. ^ "Biographical Note". Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  2. ^ "American Sociological Association: Harvard Professor Elected President of the American Sociological Association". www.asanet.org. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  3. ^ a b "Harvard's Michèle Lamont receives Erasmus Prize for her social science research". Harvard Gazette. 2017-11-28. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  4. ^ a b Lamont, Michele (June 2018). "Michele Lamont Long CV" (PDF). Harvard University.
  5. ^ "Michèle Lamont". Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  6. ^ "Successful Societies". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  7. ^ "Social Resilience in the Neoliberal Era". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  8. ^ "Weatherhead Center Names Permanent Director a Year After Its Last Leader Resigned". The Harvard Crimson. 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  9. ^ "Money, Morals, and Manners". University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  10. ^ McLeod, Jane; Lawler, Edward; Schwalbe, Michael (2014). Handbook of the Social Psychology of Inequality. Springer. p. 140. ISBN 978-94-017-9002-4.
  11. ^ a b Lamont, Michèle and Virag Molnar. 2002. "The Study of Boundaries in the Social Sciences". Annual Review of Sociology. 28:167–195
  12. ^ "Society for the Study of Social Problems | Past Winners". www.sssp1.org. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  13. ^ Cohen, Patricia (2010-08-23). "For Scholars, Web Changes Sacred Rite of Peer Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  14. ^ Lamont, Michèle (2012-01-01). "Toward a Comparative Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation". Annual Review of Sociology. 38 (1): 201–221. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-070308-120022.
  15. ^ "Carnegie Corporation names fellowship winners". Harvard Gazette. 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-05-01.

External linksEdit