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Greg Prieto

Assistant Professor

Greg Prieto joined the Sociology faculty at the University of San Diego in Fall 2013. He teaches primarily in the Crime, Justice, Law & Society concentration. Professor Prieto’s research interests lie at the intersection of race, racism and legal violence. His primary focuses are immigration, police, law & society, and social movements. In his research, he seeks to bridge the community and the academy by embedding his work in local struggles for the rights, resources, and dignity of marginalized communities.


Professor Prieto earned his B.A. in Sociology from Whittier College in 2005, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2013.

Scholarly and Creative Work

Professor Prieto is currently preparing several articles based on his dissertation “Agency and Action: Immigrant Lives and Immigrant Politics in the Deportation Nation,” a comparative ethnographic study of the forms of agency and collective action among Mexican immigrants in California. Working primarily through a local social movement organization, he recorded narratives from both documented and undocumented Mexican immigrants about their daily negotiation of the threat of property apprehension and deportation in two cities with markedly different political climates. Broadly, he concluded that immigrants’ legal vulnerability prompts an “inward turn” that functions both as a protection from deportation and as a barrier to participation in social movement organization and wider civic participation. When immigrant activism does occur, local political climate shapes the tenor of immigrants’ claims and the strategies used to pursue them. This work was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

Separately, he has conducted ethnographic research on Latino Border Patrol Agents, as well as relations between local police and gang-involved youth in California. Future research will examine the experiences of migrant farmworkers and queer immigrants.

Teaching Interests

Drawing on years of community work with various organizations in Santa Barbara, Professor Prieto is committed to linking academic inquiry to community engagement. He seeks to bring the voices and experiences of those under study into the classroom and to bring students into the community, shrinking the gap between research and the subjects from whom that research is derived. He believes that student diversity is key to enriching undergraduate education. He is currently teaching Quantitative Methods, but plans to offer courses related to the interdisciplinary field of Law and Society, as well as immigration, race and racism, social movements, and qualitative methods.