Morehouse Research Institute

Advisory Board

Dr. Alford A. Young

Alford YoungAlford A. Young, Jr. is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Chair of Sociology, and in the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, at the University of Michigan.  He completed his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 1996.  He also received his M.A in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 1992, and his B.A. in Sociology, Psychology, and African American Studies (with honors) at Wesleyan University in 1988.  Professor Young’s primary area of research has been on low-income African American men. In addition, he has pursued research on low-income, urban-based African Americans, African American scholars and intellectuals, and the classroom-based experiences of faculty as they pertain to diversity and multiculturalism.

In his work on African American men he argues for a renewed cultural sociology of this population.  In doing so he claims that behavior is not solely produced and regulated by values and norms, but is also affected by other frameworks of meaning.  These additional frameworks – beliefs, worldviews, and personal ideologies – are types of common sense understandings that emerge out of patterns of social exposure. These understandings are broadened or narrowed by the extent to which people interact with members of other racial groups or with people who are positioned differently throughout various kinds of social hierarchies.  In exploring the various kinds of meanings that these men construct about their lives, he aims to move beyond scholarly and public preoccupation with values and norms as the pivotal concepts for the cultural analysis of low-income individuals.  In his view, greater attention to the meanings that such men construct about various social processes and structures allow for a more profound assessment of how they ultimately function as social beings. 

Professor Young has published The Minds of Marginalized Black Men: Making Sense of Mobility, Opportunity, and Future Life Chances (Princeton University Press 2004), as well as articles in Sociological Theory, The Annual Review of Sociology, Symbolic Interaction, Ethnic and Racial Studies, among other journals. He is currently completing a manuscript entitled, “From the Edge of the Ghetto: African Americans and the World of Work.”  He is also working on a follow-up manuscript to The Minds of Marginalized Black Men that examines how African American men who were reared in poverty but have engaged extreme upward mobility as young adults discuss learning to navigate of race and class-based constraints over the course of their lives.   Finally, he coordinates the Scholars Network on Masculinity and the Well-Being of African American Men, which is an assembly of mid-career scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and applied and professional fields designed to influence social policy and broader public understanding of the cultural dimensions of the condition of African American men.