Wade M. Cole portrait
  • Associate Professor, Sociology Department


  • Ph.D., Sociology, Stanford University
  • B.A., Political Science, Western Washington University


(NB: This isn't a "biography" so much as a critical self-reflexive autoethnographic narrative vignette. It is nevertheless written in the third person to give it the pretense of objectivity.)

Wade is a sociologist because he wasn’t smart enough to be an astrophysicist. Although he warns students that sociology is more difficult than physics because people, unlike atoms, don’t obey the universal and immutable laws of nature, he knows that physics is actually the harder of the two.*

To say that Wade is a sociologist means very little, given the extremely fractured and incoherent nature of the discipline. He is, more concretely, a political sociologist, albeit one who doesn’t study capitalist exploitation. His inattention to the causes and/or consequences of class conflict in advanced capitalist societies, in conjunction with his reluctance to use the term “Global South” for all other societies, often leads other sociologists to accuse Wade of being a bourgeois apologist, a Durkheimian, or perhaps a political scientist. He’s pretty sure most political scientists would categorically reject the latter accusation.

When he's feeling pretentious, Wade considers himself a macrophenomenological institutionalist. He doesn't study people and has never undergone IRB review.

Wade is a misanthrope who studies human rights and a Euro-heteronormative cis-male (he/his/him) who researches minority-serving and women’s colleges. The irony is not lost on him. An inveterate pessimist, Wade fails to see much emancipatory or decolonizing potential in his research; he eshews considerations of praxis in favor of the value-neutral pursuit of basic academic knowledge for its own sake. His least favorite academic term—apart from “Global South”—is “intersectionality,” even though he fully understands that various marginalized, stigmatized, colonized, pathologized, minoritized, otherized, or otherwise subaltern sociocultural identities combine in ways that exacerbate the pernicious effects of systemic oppression and hegemonic domination.

Wade teaches a variety of courses, including Introduction to Sociology (where he tries to convince students that sociology is both a coherent discipline and harder than physics), stratification (sexily titled “Race, Class, and the American Dream” in a marginally successful attempt to put butts in seats), social movements (where he occasionally gets students to rabble-rouse on campus), political sociology (at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, again with a de-emphasis on capitalist exploitation), and classical sociological theory (a graduate seminar that serves, if nothing else, to perpetuate the inaccurate myth that a sociological Canon exists). He peppers his lectures with references to Seinfeld, Ice Cube, George Carlin, The Jeffersons, Three's Company, Rambo (the third installment in particular), Rocky (installment four), and other pop-culture allusions most millennials don’t understand.

When Wade isn't busy professoring, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking in the Wasatch Mountains, consuming meat and gluten, and wallowing in existential dread, contemplating the utter futility of a post-modern life bereft of meaning.

Fun fact: Wade Cole's homonymic name is Weighed Coal.

* For an opposing view, see Tyson (2016). Wade may have to reconsider his position on this matter. Either that or add lots of quadratic terms to his regression models.

Tyson, Neil deGrasse (@neiltyson). 2016. “In science, when human behavior enters the equation, things go nonlinear. That's why Physics is easy and Sociology is hard.” [Tweet, February 5, 23:03 UTC]. Retrieved February 5, 2016 (https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/695759776752496640).