Carnegie Mellon University

Waverly Duck

Waverly Duck

CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Baker Hall 242-C
  • 412-268-9808


Waverly Duck is an urban sociologist and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of No Way Out: Precarious Living in the Shadow of Poverty and Drug Dealing (University of Chicago Press 2015) and a finalist for the 2016 C. Wright Mills Book Award. His research examines the social orders of poor Black neighborhoods, as well as manifestations of race and gender among the upwardly mobile, using ethnographic and ethnomethodological approaches that focus on how meanings are sustained within contexts of inequality (interactional, neighborhood, and organizational) through orderly cooperation. His research extends further into a broad range of topics, including orderly properties of communication in settings troubled by autism, welfare reform, and gender.

After receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from Wayne State University in 2005, Professor Duck was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. Following this, he held a three-year post-doctoral appointment at Yale University before joining the faculty at Pittsburgh in 2010. Waverly also served as Associate Director of the Yale Urban Ethnography Project, of which he is currently a Senior Fellow. From 2013 to 2014, he was a visiting professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he conducted research at the Waisman Center, a research clinic dedicated to examining childhood psychopathology. He teaches on a wide number of topics, including urban sociology, inequality (race, class, gender, health, and age), qualitative methods, culture, communication, ethnomethodology, and ethnography, and is a two-time winner of the University of Pittsburgh Student Choice Teaching Award. Professor Duck is the incoming Director of Urban Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, beginning in 2018.

While a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies & the Economy, Waverly will complete several major projects that address issues concerning race, politics, gentrification, and qualitative methods. The first, a collaborative project with Anne Rawls, is a manuscript on unconscious racism, A Nation Divided: The High Cost of Tacit Racism, which digs into the consequences of racism and inequality. The book, both theoretical and empirical, analyzes data derived from fieldwork as well as audio and video recorded interactions between participants who self-identify as Black and White. The book shows how these participants have different "definitions of the situation," about their embedded identities and expectations, which constitute the basis for sensemaking within an interaction. The second project, a case study with Devin Rutan, focuses on the former mayor of Pittsburgh, Thomas J. Murphy. The book, titled Pittsburgh’s Renaissance: The Work of Mayor Thomas J. Murphy, draws on interviews, archival research, and ethnographic observation to produce both a biography of Murphy and a political economic analysis of the city's management during his twelve years in office, from 1994 to 2006, a period in which Pittsburgh experienced a significant economic resurgence. Another project builds on Professor Duck's previous qualitative research examining food access and gentrification. In collaboration with Devin Rutan and University Pittsburgh Economist, Randy Walsh, Waverly is undertaking a nationwide study of food oases, which serves to interrogate the political economy of urban redevelopment. Lastly, he is currently wrapping up a manuscript titled Ethnographies, a book that traces the history of ethnography within sociology.


Ph.D.: Wayne State University, 2005
Department Member Since: 2017