Robert Werth

Areas of Interest: 
Punishment and society; socio-legal studies; penal regulation, governance and power; parole and community corrections; social theory; qualitative methods; ethnography


Dr. Werth obtained a B.A., specialized in Sociology, from the University of Iowa. For graduate school he attended the University of California - Irvine, where he obtained a M.A. in Social Ecology and a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary Criminology, Law and Society program. Prior to coming to Rice, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Quinnipiac University. Broadly, his research focuses on (a) punishment, (b) the ways in which penal subjects are constituted, imagined and represented, and (c) the governance of risk and dangerousness. His current research entails two overlapping foci. First, it explores how individuals on parole experience and navigate state efforts to regulate their conduct and personhood. Second, it examines how parole personnel enact parole, including how they understand and engage with the formal goals of community safety, rehabilitation, and reintegration. This project also explores how paroled subjects are assessed, including the ways in which evaluation assembles technical, moral and affective knowledges. He is beginning a project on how individuals formerly convicted of a penal offense perceive and make use of services and programs available to them in the community (e.g., job training programs and housing services) and the ways in which “justice reinvestment” initiatives may be impacting this. 

Recent Publications

 Robert Werth. Forthcoming. "Breaking the rules the right way: Resisting parole logics and asserting autonomy." In Supervised Freedom: International Perspectives on parole. Edited by Ruth Armstrong and Ioan Durnescu. Palgrave MacMillan.

Robert Werth. Forthcoming. "Individualizing risk: Moral judgment, professional knowledge, and affect in parole evaluation." British Journal of Criminology.

Robert Werth. 2013. “The construction and stewardship of responsible yet precarious subjects: Punitive ideology, rehabilitation, and ‘tough love’ among parole personnel.” Punishmentand Society. 15(3): 219-242.

Robert Werth. 2011. “I Do What I’m Told, Sort of: Reformed subjects, unruly citizens, and parole.” Theoretical Criminology. 16(3):329-346.








Robert Werth
Lecturer Ph.D. University of California, Irvine

Sewall Hall 478
713 348-4585