Future Paths

Carroll Seron:

Carroll Seron is a professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at University of California, Irvine.

Before, Dr. Seron was a professor in the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College and the Department of Sociology at the Graduate Center/CUNY. Over the course of her career, Dr. Seron has conducted sociological and policy-related research with a focus on legal institutions. Funded by the National Science Foundation, she is currently conducting a study to understand better the public's and police officers' judgments about the seriousness and appropriate punishment for police misconduct. In their contacts with citizens, misconduct includes officers' use of unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, and offensive language.

Commonly referred to as "FADO," this study is designed to understand how such behavior is judged in the context of interactions between officers and civilians. While administrative guidelines define appropriate police behavior, the realities of day-to-day policing may complicate interpretation of legal standards. For example, does the civilian's demeanor toward the officer affect judgments of the seriousness of misconduct and, following this, appropriate punishment? Do we "see" and judge events differently if the civilian is polite, or confrontational? Young, or old? White, or minority?

The goal of this research, then, is to understand how the public and police officers judge and punish police misconduct in the context of such interactions and whether and to what extent citizens and police officers present similar or different views on this question.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Seron conducted a number of studies of the legal profession. The Business of Practicing Law (1996) looks at the impact of Supreme Court decisions permitting advertising and other forms of solicitation on lawyers' notions of professionalism. With Cynthia Fuchs Epstein and two graduate students, Bonnie Oglinsky and Robert Saute, she wrote The Part-time Paradox: Time Norms, Professional Life, Family and Gender (1999), a study of the impact of part-time and alternative scheduling of work on lawyers' careers and mobility.

Building on a long-standing interest in the professions, with Dr. Susan Silbey of MIT, she is beginning a six-year study of the professional socialization of engineering students at four sites, Smith College, Olin College of Engineering, MIT, and UMASS that is funded by the National Science Foundation. While the demographic profile of law and medicine has changed dramatically in the last twenty-five years, the same cannot be said for engineering. By following cohorts of male and female, white and minority students at four institutions over the course of their academic career and first year of professional employment, the goal of the study is understand the social, economic, cultural and social-psychological factors that are associated with persistence and departure from the profession.

Professor Seron has also conducted a number of pro bono studies for the legal community, including a study for the Task Force on Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Bias in the Federal Courts of the Second Circuit of the United States as well as a study for the Community Law Office of New York on the impact of legal representation on the outcome of cases in Manhattan's Housing Court.

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