Thomas Hirschl

Thomas Hirschl


260 Warren Hall
(607) 255-1688

My scholarly focus is on social class differentiation in contemporary society. I am working on a new method for measuring social class by developing a life course approach to identify the economic, social, and health correlates of social class.

Research Focus

My research is motivated by the insight that social class differentiation is at the center of development in contemporary society. My current work focuses on a new methods for measuring social class using a "life course " approach operationalized with longitudinal data. I also examine how individuals subjectively experience economic hardship and economic success over their life course, how they perceive and conceptualize these experiences in social ideological terms, including religious interpretations of the social world.

Outreach and Extension Focus

As coordinator of the Program Work Team on Poverty and Economic Hardship I work work with educators, community leaders, and service providers to find new ways to fight poverty. We seek to identify new knowledge and policies to meet the challenge of higher poverty rates in the 21st Century.

I direct the Teen Assessment Program which serves youth and youth service providers by scientifically identifying youth social behavior and finding ways to modify behavior in order to achieve positive youth development. A survey of approximately 2,622 youth was conducted in Madison County and this survey involved school officials in 10 public school districts, and many volunteer survey administrators, and the Madison County Youth Bureau. The survey results are now being disseminated and various public fora are planned to discuss and utilize the results.

Teaching Focus

One of the great paradoxes of the modern world is technological progress alongside social crisis. How is it that modern human societies simultaneously embody technological progress and social crisis? Under what conditions might technological progress translate into social progress? These questions, and related questions, speak to the heart of the discipline of sociology, and are directly addressed in my instruction. I focus upon core concepts social scientists use to explain and understand society, and provide interpretation and data on key social questions that face the nation and the world.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Hirschl, T. A., & Rank, M. R. (2015). The life course dynamics of affluence. PLoS One. 10:e0116370.
  • Rank, M. R., & Hirschl, T. A. (2015). The Likelihood of Experiencing Relative Poverty over the Life Course. PLoS One. 10:e0133513.
  • Rank, M. R., & Hirschl, T. A. (2014). The risk of developing a work disability across the adulthood years. Disability and Health Journal. 7:189-195.
  • Hirschl, T. A., Rank, M. R., & Kusi-Appouh, D. (2011). Ideology and the Experience of Poverty Risk: Views about Poverty within a Focus Group Design. Journal of Poverty. 15:350-370.
  • Hirschl, T. A., & Rank, M. R. (2010). Home Ownership Across the American Life Course: Estimating the Racial Divide. Race and Social Problems. 2:125-136.
  • Hirschl, T. A., Sandoval, D. A., Rank, M. R., & , (2009). The Increasing Risk of Poverty Across the American Life Course. Demography. 46:717–737.
  • Rank, M. R., & Hirschl, T. A. (2009). Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood. Archives of Pediatrics Adolescent Medicine. 163:994-999.
  • Hirschl, T. A., Booth, J., & Glenna, L. L. (2009). The Link Between Voter Choice and Religious Identity in Contemporary Society: Bringing Classical Theory Back In. Social Science Quarterly. 90:927-944.