Joyce M Bell

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I am the Don A. Martindale Associate Professor of Sociology (2016-2019) and my research agenda deals with race, work & organizations, and social movements. My first line of work—in the area of race, social movements, and the professions—is primarily concerned with how resistance to racism shapes the professions. My first book, Black Power Professionals: The Black Power Movement and American Social Work (2014, Columbia University Press) details the impact of the Black Power movement on the profession of social work. My second research area is concerned with diversity as a racial project. I am interested in how the notion of diversity works as a tool to co-opt progressive racial policy, movements, and discourse. In this area I research the role of diversity discourse in institutions, higher education policy, and in the law.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • BA: Sociology & Spanish, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, 1998.
  • Ph.D.: Sociology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 2007.

Curriculum Vitae


  • American Race Relations
  • Social Movements
  • Work, Professions & Organizations
  • Historical Sociology
  • Civil Rights and Black Power Movement
  • Diversity in Higher Education
Research & Professional Activities


  • Black Power Law: It has been established that lawyers play important roles in social movements. Lawyers shape movement frames, set movement agendas and protect movements from external legal action. What about lawyers who defend radical activists? How did lawyers use the courts in support of Black Power activist?
  • Black Power Lawyers: Unique and Unorthodox Methods. Under Contract with Oxford University Press and supported by a 2015-2016 Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies fellowship at Harvard University
  • The Right to Be Racist: Multi-year, multi-method research project under way with Wendy Leo Moore (Texas A&M) on race, racism, and race-based policy in higher education