Monica Bell is a legal sociologist who primarily uses qualitative methods to investigate under-recognized aspects of persistent and concentrated poverty, then interrogates how the law structures, and might respond to, those conditions. This inductive approach leads to scholarship on criminal justice policy, housing law and policy, family law and policy, anti-poverty programs, urban sociology, race, culture, and qualitative methods. Her recent work has focused on police regulation and police-community relations.
Monica's work has appeared in peer-reviewed social science journals and law journals. A recent article, "Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism," reveals specific ways that poor African-American mothers--often depicted as either disdainful of police or as manipulators who unfairly call the police on their relationship partners and children--understand and strategize around criminal justice in the age of heavy policing. This article, which received four best graduate student paper awards from sections of the American Sociological Association and an honorable mention from the Eastern Sociological Society for the best graduate student paper across all topics, is forthcoming in the Law & Society Review. With Matthew Desmond, she recently co-authored "Housing, Poverty, and the Law," which appeared in the November 2015 issue of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science.
Monica holds degrees from Furman University, University College Dublin, Harvard University, and the Yale Law School. She is also a Climenko Fellow (2014-2015 and 2016-2017), a research associate at Yale Law School's Justice Collaboratory (2015-2016), a doctoral fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard, and a member of the California Bar.