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Matthew Hughey, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Matthew Hughey, Ph.D.

Professor of Sociology | University of Connecticut


A scholar of racism and racial inequality in identity formation, organizations, media, politics, science, religion, and public advocacy.



Professor Hughey is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut and Affiliate Faculty in (1) the Graduate Certificate and Masters in Race, Ethnicity, & Politics; (2)
Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, & Policy; (3) American Studies Program, and; (4) Africana Studies Institute

Professor Hughey is also an Affiliate Member and Partner in the Culture, Politics, and Global Justice at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, England); a Research Associate in Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation at the Nelson Mandela University (Port Elizabeth, South Africa), and an International Collaborator in the Research Group on Gender, Identity, and Diversity with the University of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain).

Professor Hughey has also served as a Visiting Scholar, Fellow, and/or Professor at: Technische Universität Dortmund (Dortmund, Germany), the University of Kent Law School (Canterbury, England), Department of Sociology at Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), the Institute of Advanced Study at Warwick University (Coventry, England), Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University (New York, USA), and the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa). In 2020 he will serve as a J. William Fulbright Scholar Fellow.

His scholarly articles have appeared in journals such as The ANNALS of the American Academy of Social and Political Science; American Behavioral Scientist; Social Problems; Social Psychology Quarterly; Symbolic Interaction; Journal of Contemporary Ethnography; The Sociological Quarterly; Contexts; Law & Social Inquiry; Du Bois Review; Ethnic and Racial Studies; Ethnicities and; Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and has published several books with outlets such as Oxford University Press, Stanford University Press, and New York University Press.

Areas of Expertise (8)


Fraternities and Sororities







Education (4)

University of Virginia: Ph.D., Sociology

Ohio University: M.Ed., Cultural Studies

Ohio University: Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study, Women’s Studies

University of North Carolina at Greensboro: B.A., Sociology




Matthew Hughey, Ph.D. Publication




Media Appearances (17)

#BamaRush reveals the segregationist roots of Greek life at the University of Alabama

Insider  online


Many early fraternities had official "whites-only" policies, and retained these policies until the 1960s and 70s, according to Matthew Hughey, professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. The first sororities weren't founded until around a century later in the mid- to late-1800s, and were seen as success stories of women who fought to overcome misogyny and restrictive social customs.

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A lucky break helped Idaho police arrest 31 men linked to white supremacist group.

NBC News  online


Matthew Hughey, the author of "White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race" and a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut, said Patriot Front remains "one — if not the most — active white supremacist group operating." "Their ideology is flexible enough to make intellectual appeals using savvy propaganda, the internet and social media, or graffiti or stickers left in public places, as well as going beyond that messaging and allowing for violence."

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'Critical race theory' becomes hot-button issue in school board races

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Critics have said CRT tarnishes American history and calls all white people racist. In schools, they say it makes white children feel like oppressors and divides classmates based on race. The academics who use or study critical race theory disagree with the premise. “The recent ‘uproar’ over CRT is a political tool,” said Matthew Hughey, a sociology professor at UConn and editor of Sociology Compass - Race and Ethnicity. “States and local school boards are reacting without much understanding at all of CRT or without having read anything that is actually CRT.”

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For Black workers, age discrimination strikes twice

Washington Post  print


When he saw the chart above, University of Connecticut sociologist Matthew Hughey was struck by the steadiness of the trend for Whites, compared to the volatile swoop of the line representing Black workers. It shows hiring managers tend to accept White applicants at face value while subconsciously scrutinizing Black ones, he said. “Black people have always been more objectified, scrutinized and surveilled than White people,” Hughey said. “Every little thing is nitpicked on a résumé or explained as a possible red flag.”

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Kamala Harris’ ‘family’ in Dallas: The Divine Nine

Dallas Morning News  online


The first Black Greek letter organization, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, was established at Cornell University in 1906, a time when Black students were barred from traditionally white Greek organizations. Many predominantly white Greek organizations had racially exclusionary policies until the 1960s and 70s, said Matthew Hughey, professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut.

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The Deeply Pessimistic Intellectual Roots of Black Lives Matter, the '1619 Project' and Much Else in Woke America

Real Clear Investigations  online


Critical race theory doesn’t put much stock in this sort of progress. Matthew Hughey, a University of Connecticut Professor of Sociology who has written extensively on race, said changing attitudes among whites are indeed real and opening a yawning gap between thought and practice that scholars call the “principle-policy gap” – a discrepancy a layperson might understand as hypocrisy. "If you talk to a lot of white people today, the thing white people are most afraid of is being called a racist,” said Hughey, who is white. “They are not afraid of living in a segregated neighborhood, sending their child to a segregated school, or doing the thing that exacerbates racism, but being called the thing.”

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Massachusetts Senate Primary Pits Long-Serving Progressive Against A Kennedy

WBUR Boston  radio


Kennedy has said he was previously unaware of the group's history. But his former membership remains problematic, said Matthew Hughey, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut who has studied fraternities. "For someone to join KA means, to me, you don't have a lot of Black friends," Hughey said. "Because if you had a lot of Black friends, if you had a lot of friends of color, someone would say, 'Hey, man, do you know about that organization?' "

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‘Frats Are Being Frats’: Greek Life Is Stoking the Virus on Some Campuses

New York Times  print


But fraternities and sororities have been especially challenging for universities to regulate. Though they dominate social life on many campuses, their houses are often not owned or governed by the universities, and have frequently been the site of excessive drinking, sexual assault and hazing. That same lack of oversight, some experts say, extends to controlling the virus. Even on campuses that are offering online instruction only, people are still living in some sorority and fraternity houses. “Fraternity and sorority homes have long functioned as a kind of ‘no-fly zone’ for university administrations,” said Matthew W. Hughey, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut who has studied Greek life and social inequality on campuses. “The structure that’s already been set up makes them harder to control when it comes to the transmission of disease.”

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Disputed NY Times '1619 Project' Already Shaping Schoolkids' Minds on Race

RealClear Investigations  online


That racial fatalism and reparations should inform the 1619 Project comes as no surprise to scholars who have studied race in America and responses to racism. “This is called Afro-pessimism,” said Matthew Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut who is also an adjunct faculty member of the Africana Studies Institute and in the Race, Ethnicity and Politics program. “There is a whole branch of thought that … racism is fundamental to the economic and political structure of the United States.”

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Harriet Tubman's 'Visions'

NPR  online


Harriet, the biopic of Harriet Tubman is almost a superhero tale. Even her fainting spells — epileptic seizures, in reality — are depicted as a way for her to communicate with God.

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Fraternity Culture And Racism

National Public Radio  radio


MATTHEW HUGHEY: We have the American higher educational system, which was designed to educate white, male, propertied, elite students. As more and more students started to come into university, and university started to become a little less elite, Greek letter organizations were formed. And they were formed as a way for those very elite, propertied, white, male students to create even more exclusionary spaces within college and university life. So they became vehicles, in a way, for the reproduction of inequality. It was very much working in elite interest. That's what it was designed to do. That's how it functioned.

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How Poverty Affects the Brain

Newsweek  online

Without context, poverty-brain research could fuel misguided beliefs involving racial disparities in intelligence or the inherent inferiority of the poor. It could also be used to justify racism. “We run the risk of these findings becoming fodder for a nouveau eugenics movement,” says Matthew Hughey, associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. “The easily dispensed adage that ‘the poor’s brains are different’ is an all-too-easy, scary and simply wrong-headed approach.”

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Can you make a non-racist Tarzan movie?

Los Angeles Times  online

“Tarzan is a time machine,” said Matthew Hughey, a sociologist and author of the book “The White Savior Film.” “He transports these 19th century views into the 20th and 21st centuries. He reassures audiences that down deep there is a natural order to things. In the age of the Black Lives Matter movement and Brexit, that’s a pretty powerful story and it’s retold over and over.”

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Our Cinematic Addiction to White Saviors

Huffington Post  online

Hollywood is quite adept at recasting historical relations into nouveau racial dramas in which a white character can cross the color-line in solidarity with their darker brethren while simultaneously emerging as the sole mechanism for black agency and racial justice.

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'Burning Sands' offers a lesson in hazing violence

Chicago Tribune  online


Matthew Hughey, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut and member of the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, believes that's where some fraternities have gotten it wrong. "What I've found in my research is if you hardly go through any type of pledge process at all, you're less likely to stay active years down the line and less likely to do service activity," Hughey said by phone. "If you go through a whole lot, anything that's violent or abusive, you're also less likely" to remain active in the organization after graduation.

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The University of Oklahoma Video, and the Problem Fraternities Can’t Fix Themselves

New York Times  online


WHAT should we do about fraternities? That’s a question not only for the University of Oklahoma, where two fraternity members were recently expelled after they appeared in a video singing a violently racist song.

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Red Sox Fans Cheer Adam Jones Day After Racist Taunts

NBC News  tv

Boston's racial history _ including fights over segregated housing, schools and politics _ has spilled into sports as some working class residents experience a "white crisis," said University of Connecticut sociologist Matthew Hughey. "They can't live up to the levels of superiority they're told they're supposed to naturally have, so they turn to symbolic things or people to build a sense of identity and to take out a sense of frustration," Hughey said. "Sports can be that sense of identity."

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Articles (8)

What Everyday White Americans and the Buffalo Shooter Have in Common



The day before Payton Gendron drove to Buffalo to commit what has been described as a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime,” he circulated a 180-page manifesto espousing the belief that, as one news outlet put it, “the U.S. belongs to White people and all others should be eradicated by force or terror.” Gendron’s proclamation—a candid rationalization for white nationalist violence—is far from the first of its kind. And it won’t be the last. Over the past several years, a half-dozen white supremacists committed acts of violence under the belief that their country belongs to white people and they must suppress any risk of replacement by force. This delusion led Anders Breivik to kill 77 people in Norway in 2011 and inspired Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. to kill three people outside of a Jewish community center in Kansas in 2014. Elliot Rodger espoused the same notion in 2014 when he killed six people in Santa Barbara, California.* So did Dylann Roof before he killed nine parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Patrick Crusius, who killed 23 people in a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, and Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, also composed and shared lengthy white supremacist screeds.

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Debating Du Bois’s Darkwater: from hymn of hate to pathos and power


2020 The initial 1920 publication of W. E. B. Du Bois’s Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil sold over 15,000 copies. Its initial 1969 reissue, and subsequent reprints, have since garnered even more sales and thousands of citations. Darkwater is now considered a classic. The centenary of the publication (1920–2020) provides an opportune moment to reflect on the book’s significance and disparate interpretations.

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“The Souls of White Folk” (1920–2020): a century of Peril and prophecy

Journal of Ethnic & Racial Studies

2020 Published in 1920, W. E. B. Du Bois’s Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil contains a provocative chapter entitled “The Souls of White Folk.” The chapter is a tour de force of the relationship of whiteness to the “darker world.” While explicitly addressing colonial imperialism, the first world war, and white supremacy, a close reading of the chapter reveals Du Bois’s implicit dissection of the meanings and makings of “whiteness.”

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“With Whom no White Scholar can Compare”: Academic Interpretations of the Relationship between W.E.B. Du Bois and Max Weber

The American Sociologist

2018 Max Weber (1864–1920) is considered one of the canonical founders of sociology, while W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963), author of The Philadelphia Negro (1899), The Souls of Black Folk (1903), and Black Reconstruction (1935), has only recently been included in the sociological canon. We provide a historical review of what we know of their relationship in order to first ask, what did Du Bois say about Weber, and second, what did Weber say about Du Bois?

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Whither Whiteness? The Racial Logics of the Kerner Report and Modern White Space

Journal of the Social Sciences

2016 The Kerner report was, and is, unrelenting in its appraisal of the deleterious effects of racial inequality but opaque as to how whites functioned in that regime. Fifty years later, and in a moment of renewed urban unrest and rioting, whites continue to benefit from racial inequality within key social structures: education, employment, housing, and policing.

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The Five I’s of Five-O: Racial Ideologies, Institutions, Interests, Identities, and Interactions of Police Violence

Critical Sociology

Matthew W Hughey

2015 The relationship between police violence and race is one fraught with both specific historical and contemporary tensions (i.e., white police profiling, beating, and murder of people of color) and with ambiguity (e.g., what is meant by “race” and how do we operationalize and measure “violence” at the hands of law enforcement?). Defining the concept of “race” as a multidimensional process of oppression and justification for social inequality can shed light on why and how police violence often descends upon black and Latino populations as well as why such brutality and state surveillance is supported by many whites yesterday and today. In this article I analyze the relationships between police violence and race as an ongoing feedback loop: “race” produces violence and inequality while violence and inequality (re)forms “race.”

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Paving the Way for Future Race Research Exploring the Racial Mechanisms Within a Color-Blind, Racialized Social System

American Behavioral Scientist

Matthew W Hughey, David G Embrick, Ashley “Woody” Doane

2015 In a day when many are fatigued with discourse on racism, discrimination, and inequality but others face a socially and politically trenchant White backlash against the gains of the civil rights movement, race scholars are faced with the complex scenario in which they must simultaneously articulate (1) what, when, and where racism operates to exercise both deleterious and advantageous effects on differently racialized actors and (2) exactly why and how racism (especially its “color-blind” variant) functions toward the reproduction of the racialized social system. While scholarship on the former is well rehearsed, we see this special issue as a clarion call for new scholarship to interrogate the precise mechanisms by which color-blind racism and the racialized social system operate...

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White backlash in the ‘post-racial’ United States

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Matthew W Hughey

2014 From the ‘Reagan Revolution’ to the election of Obama in the USA; from the populism of Enoch Powell and Thatcher to the rise of the British National Party in the UK; and from the backlash against multiculturalism in both Australia and Canada, westernized nations with colonial histories and unequal relations between a powerful white class and a subjugated non-white class now witness a strikingly adamant discourse and movement: growing numbers of white people claim that they are racially oppressed and seek redress against policies, laws and practices that they believe discriminate against them. I critically examine the white backlash in the ‘post-racial’ era (1960s – present) of the USA by reviewing the extant scholarship on the white backlash, by highlighting landmark legal cases and media spectacles that represent claims of white racial victimization, and by arguing that white victimization discourse is an integral mechanism in the formation of contemporary white racial identity...

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