Debra Minkoff

Miriam Scharfman Zadek Family Professor of Sociology

Chair of the Department of Sociology

Dean for Faculty Diversity and Development

Debra Minkoff joined the faculty of Barnard in 2005, after teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. She also has taught at Yale University and held visiting positions at the University of Munich and the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Professor Minkoff’s work focuses on the organizational dimensions of social movements and political activism in the U.S. Her earlier research traces the civil rights and feminist movements, developing a new approach that emphasizes the ecology of national political and civic organizations. She has written on such topics as the structure of protest cycles in the U.S., organizational change and failure among national political organizations, and the role of national social movements in American civil society. More recently her research has investigated such questions as how funding by elite foundations shapes the field of organizations seeking to consolidate the gains of the feminist and civil rights movements, and how much variety exists in the organizational models available for citizen advocacy at the national level in the U.S.

Her article "Conceptualizing Political Opportunity" (with D. S. Meyer) received the 2005 Best Published Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements.

At Barnard, Professor Minkoff’s teaching includes such courses as "Social Movements, Funding Social Change: A Research Practicum, and the Junior Colloquium."

Selected Publications

"Structure and Strategy: Organizational Diversity in the U.S. Advocacy Sector" (with S. Aisenbrey and J. Agnone), Social Problems (Forthcoming)

"Conceptualizing Political Opportunity" (with D. S. Meyer), Social Forces 82 (June 2004)

"Bending with the Wind: Organizational Change in American Women's and Minority Organizations." American Journal of Sociology 104 (May 1999) pdf

"The Sequencing of Social Movements," American Sociological Review 62 (October 1997) pdf

Organizing for Equality: The Evolution of Women's and Racial-Ethnic Organizations in America, 1955-1985 (Rutgers University Press, ASA Rose Book Series, 1995)

Academic Focus: 

Contemporary social movements

Organizational theory

Nonprofit advocacy


B.A., Brandeis University

M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University