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Lynne Haney


Lynne Haney is a sociologist, feminist scholar, and ethnographer of the state. In her research, she has ventured inside state institutions across time and place: from the socialist welfare system in Hungary to prisons for mothers in California to child support courts throughout the U.S. Her work is driven by an interest in how state policies and practices shape gender relations and identities, often in unintended and unexpected ways. And she focuses all of her work on the effects of state institutions on the lives and livelihoods of people from marginalized communities--and on how welfare and criminal justice policies can be transformed to improve their lives in meaningful, sustainable ways.


Her most recent book, Prisons of Debt: The Afterlives of Incarcerated Fathers, examines these issues from the perspective of indebted fathers. It peels apart the layers of policies and laws through which child support has been criminalized--and uncovers its consequences for formerly-incarcerated fathers and their families. Based on direct observation of over 1200 child support cases across the U.S., it documents the miscarriages of justice that can rob disadvantaged fathers of their rights as citizens and as parents. Through interviews with 145 fathers, the book traces the cycles of punishment and debt that can end up undermining parental and familial wellbeing. Prisons of Debt also makes a strong case for the inclusion of child support in criminal justice reform policies and politics.

Lynne is the author of the award-winning books Offending Women: Power, Punishment and the Regulation of Desire and Inventing the Needy: Gender and the Politics of Welfare in Hungary. She is the coauthor and coeditor of several other books, including The Sociology Project and Families of a New World. Her articles have been published in a range of journals, such as American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Signs, and Social Problems. She recently consulted with the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Justice on policy reforms in the area of child support and reentry--and published a White Paper with them on the topic.

Her research has been supported by many organizations and foundations, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study (CEU), the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright New Century Scholars Program. She is currently Honorary Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies at the University of South Africa.

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