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Jesse Wozniak, Ph.D.

Associate Professor - Sociology


Dr. Wozniak received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota in 2012 and joined WVU in January 2013. A central focus of his work is on the reconstruction of the police force within Iraqi Kurdistan, drawing from a large number of interviews and extended ethnographic observations, as well as a recent experimental survey. This work not only examines the narrow question of how police reconstruction actually works on the ground, but also larger questions of how police are designed to fulfill political projects, how the modern state wields its power, and how imperialism operates in contemporary international relations. His other lines of research touch on similar issues through different lenses, ranging from the study of American police training regimes to examining how the Islamic State is attempting to sell itself to prospective members.

Dr. Wozniak is a major proponent of public sociology and is quite active in the community concerning issues of criminal legal system reform and racial justice. He is on the leadership team of the Alliance for Police Accountability, a Pittsburgh (PA)-based organization which both advocates for individuals experiencing police abuse as well as for legal and social changes in how public safety is created and maintained.

He has taught courses in policing, deviant behavior, qualitative methods, criminal justice, anti-racism, law politics and inequality, race and ethnicity, and crime and community.

Dr. Wozniak's website can be found at here.

Selected Publications

Wozniak, Jesse. 2021. Policing Iraq: Legitimacy, Democracy, and Empire in a Developing State Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Wozniak, Jesse, Justin Laing, Brandi Fisher, Jasiri X, Allyce Pinchback-Johnson, Leon Ford, Michelle Kenney, Miracle Jones, and Ashley Comans. 2021.  Reimagining Public Safety in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County: A Community Vision for Lasting Health and Safety Available at:

Wozniak, Jesse. 2019. “Iraq’s Neoliberal Reconstruction and the Continued Relevance of the State” Sociological Focus 52(4): 359-376. 

Wozniak, Jesse. 2017. "Iraq and the Material Basis of Post-Conflict Police Reconstruction" The Journal of Peace Research54(6): 806-818.

Wozniak, Jesse 2017. “’We are Going to Prove That We Are a Civil and Developed Country’: The Cultural Performance of Police Legitimacy and Empire in the Iraqi State” The British Journal of Criminology. 57(4):906-923.

Courses Taught

  • SOCA 234 The Criminal Justice System
  • SOCA 319 Police Culture & Socialization
  • SOCA 321 Punishment and Social Control
  • SOCA 488 Law, Politics, and Inequality 
  • SOCA 513 Qualitative Methods
  • SOCA 610 Advanced General Sociology 
  • SOCA 793: Race, Crime, and Community