Joel Rogers

Position title: Noam Chomsky Professor of Law, Political Science, Public Affairs, & Sociology


Phone: Contact Michelle Bright (608) 890-2543 or

7114B Sewell Social Sciences

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Research Interest Statement:

Joel Rogers is the Sewell-Bascom Professor of Law, Political Science, Public Affairs, and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also directs COWS, a national research and strategy center on high-road development which also operates the Mayors Innovation Project, State Smart Transportation Initiative (with Smart Growth America), and ProGov21. Rogers has written widely on party politics, democratic theory, and cities and urban regions. Along with many scholarly and popular articles, his books include The Hidden Election, On Democracy, Right TurnMetro FuturesAssociations and DemocracyWorks Councils, Working Capital, What Workers Want, Cites at Work, and American Society: How It Really Works.  Joel is an active citizen as well as academic. He has worked with and advised many politicians and social movement leaders, and has initiated and/or helped lead several progressive NGOs (including the New Party [now the Working Families Party], EARN, WRTP, Apollo Alliance [now part of the Blue Green Alliance], Emerald Cities Collaborative, State Innovation Exchange, and  EPIC-N (Educational Partnership for Innovation in Communities Network). He is a contributing editor of The Nation and Boston Review, a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and identified by Newsweek as one of the 100 living Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century.


Ph.D., Princeton University; JD, Yale Law School, 1976

Departmental Areas of Interest:

Economic Sociology, Political Sociology, Economic Change and Development, Class Analysis and Historical Change, General Social Theory, Communities and Urban Sociology, Law and Society


Soc 125 American Society: How It Really Works
Soc 924 Political Seminar: A New Left?
Law 940 Law and Contemporary Problems
Soc 919 Productive Democracy: 21st Century Egalitarian Possibilities

Other Campus Affiliations:

Institute for Research on Poverty
Law School
Political Science
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Selected Publications:

Rogers, Joel. 2020. “How About Productive Democracy for a Change,” Social Policy 50:1 (Spring 2020):19-25.

Wright, Erik Olin and Joel Rogers. 2015. American Society: How It Really Works, 2nd Edition. New York: WW Norton.

Rogers, Joel and Satya Rhodes-Conway. 2014. Cities at Work: Progressive Local Policies to Rebuild the Middle Classrep. Center On Wisconsin Strategy. Retrieved (

Rogers, Joel. 2013. “Using State and Local Policies.” The Good Society 22(1):91.

Rogers, Joel. “Productive Democracy.” Pp. 71-92 in Renewing Democratic Deliveration in Europe, The Challenge of Social and Civil Dialogue, Edited by Jan De Munck, Claude DIdry, Ignacio Ferreras, and Arnaud Jobert. Berlin, Germany: Peter Lang Publishing Group.

Luria, Dan and Joel Rogers. 1999. Metro Futures: Economic Solutions for Cities and Their Suburbs. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.