John Eason

Watson Family University Associate Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs


John Major Eason is an Associate Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. Professor Eason, a native of Evanston, Illinois received a B.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a M.P.P. from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Before entering graduate school, he was a church-based community organizer focusing on housing and criminal justice issues. He also served as a political organizer for then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama.

His research interest challenges existing models and develops new theories of community, health, race, punishment, and rural/urban processes in several ways. First, by tracing the emergence of the rural ghetto he establishes a new conceptual model of rural neighborhoods. Next, by demonstrating the function of the ghetto in rural communities he extends concentrated disadvantage from urban to rural community process. These relationships are explored through his book, "Big House on the Prairie: Rise of the Rural Ghetto and Prison Proliferation" (University of Chicago Press).

He uses multi-method, multi-level approaches in empirical investigations ranging from imprisonment, prisoner reentry, murder, healthcare access, and health disparities across the rural-urban continuum.

Recent News

John Eason writes for Urban Institute, "The current trajectory of expanding detention facilities is alarming. To prevent exacerbating the already dire situation, we propose a halt to the opening of any new facilities and consider closing facilities with repeated human rights violations. The evidence is clear: expansion of immigrant detention centers leads to more harm..."
Read Article
News from Watson

Punishment Beyond Mass Incarceration Symposium

The Watson Institute, in a collaborative effort with the Urban Institute, hosted a two-day symposium, "Punishment Beyond Mass Incarceration" on April 4-5.
Read Article
The Watson Institute awarded Birkelund funds to five faculty research projects during the 2023 - 2024 academic year. Projects ranged from studying civilian-military coordination during the pandemic to creating a study group between Brown students and faculty, and quilombola communities in Brazil.
Read Article
News from Watson

Student Spotlight: Sarah Ogundare ’24

As an undergraduate concentrator in International and Public Affairs, Sarah Ogundare said she gained valuable analytical skills and learned to constantly question her assumptions while developing hands-on, in-depth knowledge about the prison system in the United States.
Read Article