Michael T. Light is Professor of Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also affiliated with the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center for Demography and Ecology, the LaFollette School of Public Affairs, the Center for Law, Society & Justice, the Center for German and European Studies, the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, the Global Legal Studies Center and has been a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security, and Law in Freiburg, Germany.

Much of his work lies at the intersection of law and demography. With dramatic increases in international migration, this research investigates citizenship as an emerging mechanism of legal inequality across Western societies. His research in this area has been published in the American Sociological Review, Law & Society Review, Social Forces, the European Journal of Sociology, and the European Sociological Review. Other work on punishment has focused on racial inequality under the law, published in Crime and Justice, Justice Quarterly, and Criminology & Public Policy.  

A second strand of his research merges inequality and criminology. Work in this area has varied from the criminological consequences of racial stratification (American Sociological Review, Journal of Quantitative Criminology) to the heterogeneous mortality implications of the prison boom (Journal of Health and Social Behavior).

A third major aspect of his research agenda studies the immigration-crime nexus. Within this vein, his work has examined crime among the undocumented (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), the effect of Latino immigration on violence for different racial/ethnic groups (Social Science Research) and the effects of undocumented immigration on drug and alcohol problems (American Journal of Public Health), violent crime (Criminology), and terrorism (Social Science Research).

Current projects include the collateral consequences of deportation (Rockwool Foundation grant), colorism and punishment (Russell Sage Foundation grant), the criminal case processing of immigrants in state courts (National Science Foundation grant, 2019-2021), and crime and recidivism among the undocumented (National Institute of Justice grant, 2020-2022).


My research focuses on criminology, the sociology of law and punishment, immigration, and stratification.



My teaching….


Contact me

Phone: 608-262-1217

Email: mlight@ssc.wisc.edu

Address: 8144 William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building, Madison, WI 53706