College of Social SciencesUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
Department of Sociology



Faculty | Emeritus & Retired | Visiting | Affiliate | Lecturers | Graduate Students | Staff | On the Job Market

Katherine Irwin

Katherine Irwin



BA Smith College, PhD University of Colorado, Boulder (2001)

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, where I attended poorly funded, inner-city public schools. My own experiences in the American public education system have profoundly shaped my current research interests and community-based commitments. In addition, my parents, siblings, and I are committed to a host of justice initiatives, including (but not limited to): providing pathways from prison to higher education (Project Rebound, see; finding effective and humane solutions to drug problems in the US; ending mass incarceration and America’s current imprisonment binge; teaching college courses in American prisons; restoring the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people; providing multi-lingual education in American schools; and developing culturally respectful, gender responsive, and non-punitive delinquency prevention programs for public school students. >



Recent projects include:
Co-Principal Investigator (with Karen Umemoto), Hawaii Community Foundation, "Programs for High School Students" (2010-2011).
Principal Investigator, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Gender and Cultural Components in Youth Violence Prevention" (2005-2008).
Co-Principal Investigator (with Karen Umemoto), "The Culture of High School Fighting," Asian and Pacific Islander Youth Violence Prevention Center (2007-2009).
Principal Investigator, "Constructing High Risk Youths," Sociology Department, University of Hawaii, Manoa.
Principal Investigator, State of Hawaii, Office of Youth Services Contract "An Evaluation of Youth Service Centers in the State of Hawaii," Social Science Research Institute (2001-2003).
Principal Investigator, State of Hawaii, Department of Public Safety Contract,"Audit of Corrections Management Information System," Social Science Research Institute (2002).

Academic: delinquency, deviance, youth culture, drug use, ethnographic methods, youth violence, race, class, and gender

Activism and advocacy: supporting non-punitive and harm reduction approaches to drug problems in Hawai'i; ending the over-incarceration of Native Hawaiian and Samoan adolescents in Hawai'i; advocating and providing services for youth at-risk for school dropout; opening pathways to the University of Hawai'i for public school students in Hawai'i; encouraging culturally respectful and gender responsive delinquency prevention programs for adolescents in Hawai'i

Personal: bicycle racing, fitness, film, novels



Survey of Criminology, Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency, Survey of Drugs and Society, Analysis in Field Research Methods, Analysis in Criminology/Juvenile Delinquency, Methods of Research in Criminal Justice, Seminar in Criminology, Women and Crime

Students' Achievements:
Danielle Kerr: BA Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa; accepted to the MA program at the University of Mississippi, Department of Sociology (adviser); "Who Do You Think You're Talking To? Dating, Violence, and Control among High School Students," paper presented at the American Society of Criminology Meetings (2008).

Izaak Williams: BA Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa; selected as a Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009 (adviser).

Janet Davidson: PhD Sociology, UHM, 2007; Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Chaminade University (PhD committee).

Lisa Pasko: PhD Sociology, UHM, 2006; Associate Professor, University of Denver (PhD committee).

Jinzhao Li: PhD American Studies, UHM, 2005; MA Sociology, UHM, 2006; Visiting Assistant Professor, Oberlin College (adviser).

RaeDeen Karasuda: PhD student Political Science, UHM; Soros Justice Fellow 2007-2008 (fellowship adviser).

Amanda K. Hall: PhD student, Sociology, UHM; Hall, Amanda K. and Katherine Irwin, “The Rich Get Prevention Programs and the Poor Still Get Prison” American Society of Criminology Meetings, 2006.

Arlie Tagayuna: PhD student, Sociology, UHM; 18 months GRA funding, Office of Youth Services study (PI OYS study).

Justin Schultz: BA, History, UHM 2006; Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Fellowship, 2006 (fellowship adviser).

Co-Authorship with Students:

With Amanda Hall, "Race to Punish American Students: Race, Class, and School Crime as Predictors of School Punishment."

With Izaak Williams,“Peer Mediation Program Literature Review: Recommended Strategies for Implementing Successful Programs.”



"The Form and Flow of Teaching Ethnographic Knowledge: Hands-On Approaches for Learning Epistemology" Teaching Sociology (in press) (2017) Type: Unpublished work, accepted for publication Co-Authors: Ugo Corte

Observing Teens: Negotiating Power and Opportunity During Field Research. In The Craft of Qualitative Research, edited by Steve Kleinknecht, Lisa-Jo van den Scott, Carrie B. Sanders (2017) Type: Unpublished work, accepted for publication

Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies (2016) Type: Books of original scholarship–author/co-author Co-Authors: Karen Umemoto ISBN: 978-0520283039

"Do Different Dimensions of Ethnic Identity Reduce the Risk of Violence for Asian American and Pacific Islander Adolescents in Hawaii?" Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. ( (2016) Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Co-Authors: Krysia Mossakowski, James H. Spencer, Karen Umemoto, Earl S. Hishinuma, Orlando Garcia-Santiago, Stephanie T. Nishimura, and SooJean Choi-Misailidis

The Race to Punish in American Schools: Class and Race Predictors of Punitive School-Crime Control. Critical Criminology, 21: 47-71. (2013) Download Publication Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Co-Authors: Janet Davidson and Amanda Hall

Fighting for Her Honor: Girls' Violence in Distressed Communities (2012) : Feminist Criminology, 7: 350-380. Download Publication Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Co-Authors: Corey Adler

"John Irwin and the Convict (Criminology) Code." The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, 21: 190-194. (2012) Download Publication Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals

Being Fearless and Fearsome: Colonial Legacies, Racial Constructions, and Male Adolescent Violence (2012) : Race and Justice, 2: 3-28.
Download Publication Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Co-Authors: Karen Umemoto

Subjective Constructions of Neighborhood Boundaries: Lessons from a Qualitative Study of Four Neighborhoods (2009) : Journal of Urban Affairs Download Publication Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Co-Authors: Campbell, Elizabeth, Julie Henly, Delbert Elliott

Beyond Bad Girls: Gender, Violence, and Hype (2008) : New York: Routledge Type: Book Co-Authors: Meda Chesney-Lind ISBN: 0415948282

Girls' Violence: Beyond Dangerous Masculinity (2008) : Sociology Compass 2/3: 837-855. Download Publication Type: Journal Article Co-Authors: Meda Chesney-Lind Keywords: Gender, Violence, Girls, Delinquency Theory

Policing Girlhood? Relational Aggression and Violence Prevention (2007) : Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 5: 328-345. Download Publication Type: Journal Article Co-Authors: Meda Chesney-Lind and Merry Morash

Into the Dark Heart of Ethnography: The Lived Ethics and Inequality of Intimate Field Relationships (2006) : Qualitative Sociology 25: 199-175 Download Publication Type: Journal Article

Thoughts on Feminist Mentoring: Experiences of Faculty Members from Two Generations in the Academy (2006) : Critical Criminology 14: 1-21 Download Publication Type: Journal Article Co-Authors: Meda Chesney-Lind and Scott Okamoto

Girls and Juvenile Justice: Jailing Bad Girls Again (2005) : In Jocelyn Pollock and Alida Merlo (Eds.), Women, Law and Social Control. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Download Publication Type: Chapter Co-Authors: Meda Chesney-Lind

From Badness to Meanness: Popular Constructions of Contemporary Girlhood (2004) : In Anita Harris (Ed.), All About the Girl: Culture, Power and Identity. New York, Routledge. Type: Chapter Co-Authors: Meda Chesney-Lind

The Violence of Adolescent Life: Experiencing and Managing Everyday Threats (2004) : Youth and Society 35: 452-479 Download Publication Type: Journal Article

Blueprints for Violence Prevention. From Research to Real-World Settings -- Factors Influencing the Successful Replication of Model Programs (2003) : Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 1: 307-329 Download Publication Type: Journal Article Co-Authors: Sharon Mihalic

Saints and Sinners: Elite Tattoo Collectors and Tattooists as Positive and Negative Deviants (2003) : Sociological Spectrum 23: 27-57 Download Publication Type: Journal Article

Legitimating the First Tattoo: Moral Passage through Informal Interaction (2001) : Symbolic Interaction 24: 49-73. Type: Journal Article

Entering the Tattoo World (2000) : In P. Adler and P. Adler (Eds.) Constructions of Deviance, 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Type: Chapter

Pregnancy, Drugs, and Harm Reduction (1998) : James A. Inciardi (Ed.) Harm Reduction and Drug Control: Concepts and Policies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 1998. Type: Chapter Co-Authors: Marsha Rosenbaum

Ideology, Pregnancy, and Drugs (1995) : Contemporary Drug Problems 22: 613-638 Type: Journal Article

What's Wrong is Right: A Response to the State of the Discipline (1995) : Sociological Forum 10: 493-498 Type: Journal Article Co-Authors: Feminist Study Group, University of Colorado, Boulder


Awards & Honors

University of Hawaii, College of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching (2004)

Best Paper Award, Mid-South Sociological Association (2003)

Second Place Award, Society of the Study of Social Problems Theory Division’s Student Paper Competition (2001)



SOC 478 (Spring 2017) : Analysis in Field Research Methods - Download

SOC 609 (Spring 2017) : Seminar in Qualitative Methods - Download

SOC 231 (Fall 2016) : Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency - Download

SOC 631 (Fall 2016) : Seminar in Criminology - Download