CSUF News Service
Meet Anthony Alvarez
Researcher Delves Into Economic Sociology
April 29, 2014
Sociology faculty member Anthony Alvarez takes a businesslike approach to sociology. The assistant professor's research interests lie in economic sociology, public policy, poverty and inequality.
"I've always been interested in the intersection of sociology, politics and economics, and the ways individuals and states influence markets," said Alvarez, discussing how he has delved into consumer finance and how it affects the lives of urban residents.
"I ended up studying not the very poorest, but those that can be described as economically insecure," he said. He describes this group as being those who are a paycheck or two away from poverty, and who often turn to their families or to expensive "payday" loans as a financial safety net.
One of his research projects focuses on San Francisco's Mission Asset Fund, a nonprofit that works with "lending circles," groups of people who each contribute a set sum every month, with each participant receiving a fixed payment from those contributions. As members make contributions to the lending circle, they build credit.
"Lending circles are a way to bring the economically vulnerable into the financial mainstream," said Alvarez, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on payday borrowing.
More and more issues such as this are becoming the focus for sociological research, added Alvarez, who has written on tax and monetary policy, in addition to consumer finance.
Alvarez joined the faculty this past fall and is currently teaching courses on statistics and research methods. He will soon teach classes in social inequality and economic sociology.
"I like to break down things that are complex so that students can see it's not so intimidating," he explained. "I want to bring economic concepts 'down to earth,' and then move into discussions about everyday economic issues like housing and credit.
"I've always been aware of the role of mentorship and how my life was heavily shaped by my teachers and mentors. It's a privilege to try and play that role for my own students," he said. (Alvarez holds a doctorate in sociology from UCLA, as well as a master's degree from the University of Maryland.)
"I love teaching and feel very, very fortunate to be working in a field that I love," he added. "Not everybody has that."