Robert Washington

Professor Emeritus of Sociology
On Sabbatical Leave Spring Semester 2020
Robert Washington headshot



Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., University of Chicago
B.A., Columbia University

Areas of Focus

Sociology of culture; social theory; sociology of sports; race and ethnic relations; African American communities; social deviance; modernization and development in East Africa


Robert Washington entered graduate school in sociology, after two years in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan, planning to concentrate on the problems of modernization in Central Asia and sub-Sahara Africa. His plans were altered, however, by political changes in Central Asia as well as by new intellectual interests and opportunities. These have been reflected in the diverse range of his research work: a pioneering sociological study of black American literature; the historical and ideological development of black American sociology; knowledge about AIDS and safe-sex practices in Kenya; government corruption in African nations; urban black American crime; race-ethnic relations; and sociology of sports.

His current research work includes completing a reader he is co-editing on the sociology of sports; writing theoretical articles on: the changing patterns of black identity in the United States; charisma as deviance; and the scapegoating functions of deviant labeling of blacks in American society. His teaching complements his research interests. He teaches a seminar on the sociology of culture which explores the role of social influences and ideology on literature, movies, advertising, and media. He also teaches Classical Social Theory, Social Deviance, Black America in Sociological Perspective, Sports in Society, The Challenges and Dilemmas of Diversity-- Race and Ethnic Relations in American Society, and East African Social and Political Development.

In addition to being a member of the sociology department, he is a faculty participant in the Bryn Mawr College Africana Studies Program. He has held the position of United States-South Africa Leadership Fellow. He has also been a Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi.