Daniel Laurison headshot above Philly skyline

I am a sociologist who studies class inequality and American politics

I am an Associate Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College, the former Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Sociology, and a 2021-2023 Carnegie Fellow. I run the Politics and Equal Participation Lab (PEPL) at Swarthmore and am the Director of the new Healthy, Equitable, and Responsive Research Initiative (HEARD).

I am interested in class inequality and social mobility, political participation and campaigns, and racial and class inequality in politics. I approach all my projects with an interest in how the world looks different to people in different social positions, and with a commitment to taking seriously the deep connections between economic inequality, racial inequality, and racism. I have written two books: Producing Politics: Inside the Exclusive Campaign World Where the Privileged Few Shape Politics for All of Us (2022, Beacon Press) and The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to Be Privileged (2019, Policy Press, co-authored with Sam Friedman). 

Before starting at Swarthmore in Fall 2016, I held a post-doctoral fellowship in the Sociology Department at the London School of Economics for three years; before that, I got my PhD in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. I draw on a wide array of methods, from in-depth interviews to large-scale surveys, from data visualizations to regression models to relational approaches such as multiple correspondence analysis.


Research Areas

Class Ceilings and Inequality

Here, I look at the ways class origin matters for our lives and careers, how that works differently across racial groups, and what that tells us about fairness and meritocracy. Publications include the book The Class Ceiling: Why it Pay to Be Privileged and a data visualization showing “Class Mobility for Black and White Adults.”

Producing Politics

This is work on the people who run national-level political campaigns in the US, examining how they understand voters, their careers, and each other–and how that shapes our democracy. The book is available for pre-order now and on sale June 14th with Beacon Press. Also at


Inequalities in political participation

The well-off participate in American politics far more than poor and working-class people do. In this research, I look for explanations for class inequalities in political engagement that go beyond simply attributing differences to resources.