David Cunningham

Professor of Sociology

David  Cunningham's photo


Email: dcunning@brandeis.edu
Office: Pearlman Hall 211
Phone: 781-736-2633
Brandeis Directory


Social movements. Historical Sociology. Political Sociology. Quantitative and qualitative inquiry.


  • University of North Carolina
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs-Mansfield
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs-Mansfield

David Cunningham

Professor of Sociology


David Cunningham’s current research focuses on the scope, organization, and legacy of racial contention in the civil rights-era South. His recent work centers on the Ku Klux Klan, in particular the complex roles that the klan played in various communities throughout the 1960s and the enduring impacts of KKK activity on contemporary voting patterns and crime rates. His latest book, Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan, has recently been published by Oxford University Press.

Awards and Honors

  • Best Published Article Award, ASA Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section (2015)
  • Honorable Mention, Charles Tilly Award for Best Book, American Sociological Association Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section (2014)
  • Outstanding Book Award, American Sociological Association Peace, War, and Social Conflict Section, (2014)
  • Finalist, C. Wright Mills Award, from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2013)
  • Spencer Foundation "Civic Learning and Civic Action" Initiative Research Grant (2010 - 2011)
  • Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer '69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring (2007)
  • Bernstein Faculty Fellowship, Brandeis University (2003 - 2004)
  • Mellon Special Project Fellow (2000)
  • Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Research Grant (1997 - 1998)
  • Everett K. Wilson Graduate Student Teaching Award (1996 - 1997)


  • Cunningham, David and Ashley Rondini. "Legacies of Racial Contention: Implementing Mississippi’s Civil Rights/Human Rights Curriculum, 2006-2011." Du Bois Review (2017). (forthcoming)
  • Cunningham, David. "Five Myths about the Ku Klux Klan." Washington Post (March 13)
  • Bandini, Julia, Sara Shostak, David Cunningham, and Wendy Cadge. "Assessing Learning in a Sociology Department: What Do Students Say That They Learn?." Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education (2015).
  • Cunningham, David and Rachel S. Madsen. "What is the KKK a Case Of?: Extreme Cases as Analytic Device." Sociology Compass 9. 4 (2015): 299-308.
  • Cunningham, David and Roberto Soto-Carrion. "Infiltrators." Breaking Down the State: Protestors Engaged. Ed. Jan Willem Duyvendak and James M. Jasper., 2015. 157-178.
  • Owens, Peter, David Cunningham, and Geoff Ward. "Threat, Competition, and Mobilizing Structures: Motivational and Organizational Contingencies of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan." Social Problems 62. 4 (2015): 572-604.
  • Ward, Geoff and David Cunningham, ed. Legacies of Racial Conflict and Violence. Race and Justice, 5 2015.
  • McVeigh, Rory, David Cunningham, and Justin Farrell. "Political Polarization as a Social Movement Outcome: 1960s Klan Activism and its Enduring Impact on Political Realignment in Southern Counties, 1960-2000." American Sociological Review 79. 6 (2014): 1144-1171.
  • Cunningham, David and Nicole Fox. "Civil Rights." Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology (2013)
  • Cunningham, David. "Shades of Anti-Civil Rights Violence: Reconsidering the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi." The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. Ed. Ted Ownby. Oxford, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2013. 180-203.
  • Cunningham, David. Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights Era Ku Klux Klan. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Cunningham, David. "Mobilizing Ethnic Competition." Theory and Society 41. 5 (2012): 505-525.
  • McVeigh, Rory and David Cunningham. "Enduring Consequences of Failed Right-Wing Activism: Klan Mobilization in the 1960s and Contemporary Crime Rates in Southern Counties." Social Forces 90. 3 (2012): 843-862.
  • Cunningham, David. "Methods of Truth and Reconciliation." Sociologists in Action. Ed. Kathleen Odell Korgen, Jonathan M. White, and Shelley K. White. Newbury Park, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2011. 163-167.
  • Cunningham, David, Colleen Nugent, and Caitlin Slodden. "The Durability of Collective Memory: Reconciling the 'Greensboro Massacre'." Social Forces 88. 4 (2010): 1517-1542 (lead article).
  • Shostak, Sara, Jennifer Girouard, David Cunningham, and Wendy Cadge. "Teaching Graduate and Undergraduate Research Methods: A Multi-Pronged Departmental Initiative." Teaching Sociology 38. 2 (2010): 93-105.
  • Cunningham, David. "Ambivalence and Control: State Action Against the Civil Rights-era Ku Klux Klan." Qualitative Sociology 32. 4 (2009): 355-377.
  • Cunningham, David and John Noakes. "What If She's From the FBI? The Effects of Covert Social Control on Social Movements and Their Participants." Surveillance and Governance: Crime Control and Beyond. Ed. Mathieu Deflem. New York: Elsevier, 2008. 177-199.
  • Cunningham, David. "Truth, Reconciliation, and the Ku Klux Klan." Southern Cultures 14. 3 (2008): 68-87.
  • Cunningham, David and Benjamin T. Phillips. "Contexts for Mobilization: Spatial Settings and Klan Presence in North Carolina, 1964-1966." American Journal of Sociology 113. 3 (2007): 781-814.
  • Cunningham, David. "Paths to Participation: A Profile of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan." Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change 27. (2007): 283-309.
  • Cunningham, David. "Surveillance and Social Movements: Lenses on the Repression-Mobilization Nexus." Contemporary Sociology vol. 36, 2 120-125.
  • Cunningham, David. "All the Klan's Men." Boston Globe June 26: Ideas D2-3.
  • Cunningham, David and Cheryl Kingma-Kiekhofer. "Comparative Collective Community-Based Learning: The 'Possibilities for Change in American Communities' Program." Teaching Sociology 32. (2004): 276-290.
  • Cunningham, David and Barb Browning. "The Emergence of 'Worthy' Targets: Official Frames and Deviance Narratives within the FBI." Sociological Forum 19. 3 (2004): 347-369.
  • Cunningham, David. "What the G-Men Knew." The New York Times Magazine June 20
  • Cunningham,David. There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence. University of California Press, 2004.
  • Cunningham, David. "Squelching Dissent in the Name of Security." Boston Globe 15 December: Op-ed article
  • Cunningham,David. "The Patterning of Repression: FBI Counterintelligence and the New Left." Social Forces 82. 1 (2003).
  • Cunningham,David. "Understanding State Responses to Left vs. Right-Wing Threats." Social Science History 27. 3 (2003).
  • Rosenfeld, Rachel, David Cunningham, and Kathryn Schmidt. "American Sociological Association Elections, 1975-1996: Exploring Explanations for 'Feminization'." American Sociological Review 62. (1997): 746-759.