Rachel Meyer is a Lecturer on Sociology at Harvard University. Her areas of interest include social movements, social class, labor movements, political sociology, social change, culture and identity, labor and work, globalization, U.S. labor history, and qualitative methods.
She received a B.A. in Anthropology (1992) and an M.A. (2002) and Ph.D. (2008) in Sociology from the University of Michigan. Previous positions in Harvard’s Department of Sociology include Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies and Harvard College Fellow.
Meyer’s research, most broadly, speaks to the relationship between changes in political economy and working-class mobilization. Her focus is on protest by precarious and marginalized workers, in particular on its sometimes unexpected and unintended consequences. She is interested in the relationship between precarious workers, the neoliberal state, and social change.
More specifically, Meyer’s research explores how collective action experiences transform working-class consciousness and subjectivity. Her empirical focus is on organizing trends in the American labor movement, including living wage campaigns. Recently she has published on 1) precarious workers’ subjectivity; 2) working-class mobilizations targeting the state; 3) the subjective consequences of local political mobilization; 4) events and the subjective consequences of collective action, using a historical sociological perspective (with Howard Kimeldorf); and 5) the grassroots political mobilization of immigrants in the U.S. (with Janice Fine). She has also published on the extent and sources of ethical consumption with respect to sweatshops and workers’ rights with colleagues at the University of Michigan. The foundation of her work is an interrogation of social movement responses to neoliberal globalization.
Meyer is currently working on a project about the relationship between workplace and community in the mid-20thcentury American labor movement. It explores the United Automobile Workers’ (UAW) Fair Employment Practices Committees and collective actions that challenged racial discrimination in restaurants around union shops. She continues to pursue questions about precarious workers, social movements, working-class subjectivity, and the state.
Meyer has received awards for her papers from both the Labor and Labor and Labor Movements Section and the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association, and for Best Graduate Student Paper at the University of Michigan.