John McCarthy

John McCarthy
Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Sociology

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., 1968, Sociology, University of Oregon
B.A., 1963, Psychology/Philosophy, San Jose State University

Professional Bio

Research and Teaching Interests

Professor McCarthy’s research and teaching interests include: Collective Behavior and Social Movements; Policing of the Public Order; Formal Organizations; and Mass Media Processes. His current project focuses on the emergence and trajectory of Grass Roots Tea Party groups. In recent years he has been a Principal Investigator on projects on a series of NSF funded research projects: “Spiritual Entrepreneurialism.” (with Chris Scheitle); Local Poor Empowerment Community Organizations (with Ed Walker); Media Coverage of Washington, D. C. Protest Gatherings; The Evolution of Public Protest in the U.S., 1960-1995 (with Sarah Soule, Susan Olzak and Doug McAdam); The Evolution of Social Movement Organizations in the U.S., 1959-2002 (with Frank Baumgartner); and Public Order Disturbances on College and University Campuses during the past decade (with Pat Rafail, Ed Walker, Andrew Martin and Clark McPhail).

Recent Professional Awards and Achievements

  • Senior Fulbright Research Scholar, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, 1995-1996
  • Visiting Scholar, Institute for International Studies, University of Michigan, February, 1996 (Mellon Seminar on Global Social Movements)
  • Member, National Science Foundation Sociology Review Panel, 1996-1998
  • Elected Member of the Sociological Research Association, 1998
  • Distinction in the Social Sciences Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State University, 2002
  • Member, National Science Sociology Program Committee of Visitors, 2002.
  • Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award, Penn State University Graduate School, 2005
  • Chair, National Science Foundation Sociology Program Committee Visitors, 2006
  • First recipient of the “John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior” Center for the Study of Social Movements, University of Notre Dame, 2007
  • Recipient of “Scholarly Achievement Award” from the Department of Sociology, Renmin University (Beijing, China), 2008
  • Member, Editorial Board, Sociological Forum, 1995-2002
  • Member, Editorial Board, Mobilization, 1996-present
  • Member, Editorial Board, American Sociological Review, 1998-2001
  • Member, Editorial Board, Contemporary Sociology, 2007-2009
  • President's Scholars Medal in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, 2012.
  • Service to the College Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Pennsylvania State University, 2016.
  • Years of Consecutive Finding from NSF Award, College of the Liberal Arts, Pennsylvania State University, 2016.


Selected Publications

  • Rafail, Patrick, Edward Walker, and John D. McCarthy (forthcoming). "Protests on the Front Page: Media Salience, Institutional Dynamics, and Coverage of Collective Action in the New York Times, 1960-1995."  Communication Research.  Online First:
  • Scheitle, Christopher, Erica Dollhopf and John D. McCarthy. (forthcoming). " Spiritual Districts: The Origins and Dynamics of U.S. Cities with Unusually High Concentrations of Parachurch Organizations." Social Science History.
  • Warner, Cody W. and McCarthy, John D. (2014). “Whatever Can Go Wrong Will: Situational Complexity and Public Order Policing”. Policing and Society 24:566-587
  • Bevan, Shaun, Erik Johnson, Frank Baumgartner, and McCarthy, John D.  2013. "Understanding Selection Bias, Time-Lags and Measurement Bias in Secondary Data Sources: Putting the Encyclopedia of Associations Database in Broader Context. Social Science Research 42(6), 1750-1764.
  • Matthews, Stephen A., John D. McCarthy, and Patrick Rafail. 2011 "Using ZIP Code Business Patterns Data to Measure Alcohol Outlet Density?'" Addictive Behaviors 36(7): 777--780.
  • Rafail, Patrick S., Sarah A. Soule and John D. McCarthy. 2012. “Describing and Accounting for the Trends in U.S. Protest Policing, 1960-1995.”  Journal of Conflict Resolution. 56:736-765.
  • Dorius, Cassandra R., & McCarthy, John D.  .2012. Understanding Activist Leadership Effort in the Movement Opposing Drinking and Driving. Social Forces 90(2), 453-473.
  • Walker, Edward T., John D. McCarthy and Frank Baumgartner. 2011. “Replacing Members with Managers? Mutualism Among Membership and Non-Membership Advocacy Organizations in the U.S.” American Journal of Sociology. 116:1284-1337.
  • Johnson, Erik W., Jon Agnone and John D. McCarthy. 2010 “Movement Organizations, Synergistic Tactics and Environmental Public Policy.”Social Forces. 88:2267-2292.
  • Walker, Edward T. and John D. McCarthy. 2010 “Legitimacy, Strategy and Resources in the Survival of Community-Based Organizations.” Social Problems 57:315-340.
  • Schwadel, Phillip A., John D. McCarthy and Hart M. Nelsen. 2009 “The Continuing Relevance of Family Income for Religious Participation: U.S. White Catholic Church Attendance in the Late 20th Century.” Social Forces. 87(4):1997-2030.
  • Martin, Andrew, John D. McCarthy and Clark McPhail. 2009. “Why Targets Matter: Toward a More Inclusive Model of Collective Violence” American Sociological Review. 74(5):821-841.
  • McCarthy, John D., Larissa Titarenko, Clark McPhail, Boguslaw Augustyn and Pat Rafail. 2008.  “Selection Bias in the Newspaper Coverage of Protests in Minsk, Belarus, 1990-1995.”  Mobilization. 13(2): 127-146.
  • Walker, Edward T., Andrew Martin and John D. McCarthy. 2008. “Confronting the State, the Corporation and the Academy: The Influence of Institutional Targets on Social Movement Repertoires.” American Journal of Sociology. 114:35-76.
  • McCarthy, John D., Andrew Martin and Clark McPhail.  2007. “Policing Disorderly Campus Protests and Convivial Gatherings: The Interaction of Threat, Social Organization and First Amendment Guarantees.” Social Problems 54(3):274-296.
  • Martin, Andrew, Frank Baumgartner and John D. McCarthy. 2006. “Measuring Association Populations Using the Encyclopedia of Associations: Evidence from the Field of Labor Unions, Social Science Research.  35:771-778.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Clark McPhail. 2006. “Places of protest: The public forum in principle and practice.” Mobilization 11:229-247.
  • Minkoff, Debra and John D. McCarthy. 2005. “Reinvigorating the Study of Organizational Processes in Social Movements.” Mobilization.10:289-308.
  • Edwards, Bob and John D. McCarthy, 2004. “Strategy Matters: The Contingent Value of Social Capital in the Survival of Local Social Movement Organizations.”  Social Forces83(2): 621-652.
  • Earl, Jennifer, Andrew Martin, Sarah Soule and John D. McCarthy. 2004. “The Use of Newspaper Data in the Study of Collective Action.” Annual Review of Sociology. 30:65-80.
  • McPhail, Clark and John D. McCarthy. 2004. “Who Counts and How: Estimating the Size of Protests.” Contexts. 3(3): 12-18.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Edward T. Walker. 2004. “Alternative Organizational Repertoires of Poor People’s Social Movement Organizations.”Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 33 (Supplement): S97-S119.
  • Edwards, Bob and John D. McCarthy. 2004. “Resources and Social Movement Mobilization,” Pp. 116-152  in The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, edited by David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Earl, Jennifer, Sarah Soule and John D. McCarthy. 2003“Protest Under Fire? Explaining the Policing of Protest.”  American Sociological Review 68:581-606.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Mayer N. Zald.  2002.  “The Enduring Vitality of the Resource Mobilization Theory of Social Movements.” Pp. 533-565 in Jonathan H. Turner, ed. Handbook of Sociological Theory. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
  • Titarenko, Larissa, John D. McCarthy, Clark McPhail and Boguslaw Augustyn. 2001. “The Interaction of State Repression, Protest Form and Protest Sponsor Strength during the Transition from Communism in Minsk, Belarus, 1990-1995.” Mobilization 6:129-150.
  • Smith, Jackie, John D. McCarthy, Clark McPhail and Boguslaw Augustyn. 2001. “From Protest to Agenda Building: Description Bias in Media Coverage of Protest Events in Washington, D.C.” Social Forces 79:1397-1423.
  • McCarthy, John D. Clark McPhail and John Crist. 1999. “The Emergence and Diffusion of Public Order Management Systems: Protest Cycles and Police Response.” Pp. 49-69 in Globalization and Social Movements. Ed. By Hanspeter Kriesi, Donatella della Porta and Dieter Rucht. London: McMillan.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Clark McPhail. 1998. “The Institutionalization of Protest in the United States.” Pp. 83-110 in The Social Movement Society: Contentious Politics for a New Century. Ed. by David S. Meyers and Sidney Tarrow. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • McAdam, Doug, John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald (Eds.). 1996. Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunity, Mobilizing Structures and Cultural Framings. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • McCarthy, John D.Clark McPhail and Jackie Smith. 1996. “Images of Protest: Estimating Selection Bias in Media Coverage of Washington Demonstrations, 1982, 1991.” American Sociological Review 61:478-499.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Mark Wolfson. 1996.  “Resource Mobilization by Local Social Movement Organizations: The Role of Agency, Strategy and Structure.”  American Sociological Review 61:1070-1088.
  • McCarthy, John D., David W. Britt and Mark Wolfson. 1991.  “The Channeling of Social Movements in the Modern American State.”  Social Movements, Conflict, and Change. 13:45-76.
  • Zald, Mayer N. and John D. McCarthy. 1987. Social Movements in an Organizational Society. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Dean R. Hoge. 1987. “The Social Construction of School Punishment:  Racial Disadvantage Out of Universalistic Process.”  Social Forces 65: 1101-1120.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Dean R. Hoge. 1985. “The Dynamics of Self-Esteem and Delinquency.” American Journal of Sociology 90:396-410.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Dean R. Hoge. 1982. “Analysis of Age Effects in Longitudinal Studies of Adolescent Self-Esteem.” Developmental Psychology 18:372-379.
  • Zald, Mayer N. and John D. McCarthy. 1979. The Dynamics of Social Movements, Winthrop Pub. Co., Cambridge, MA.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Mayer N. Zald. 1977.  “Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial Theory.”  American Journal of Sociology82: 1212-1241.
  • McCarthy, John D. and Mayer N. Zald. 1973. The Trend of Social Movements in America:  Professionalization and Resource Mobilization, General Learning Press, Morristown, NJ.
  • McCarthy, John D. and William L. Yancey. 1971. “Uncle Tom and Mister Charlie:  Metaphysical Pathos in the Study of Racism and Personal Disorganization.”  American Journal of Sociology 76: 648-672.


Recent Research Grants

  • "Collaborative Research in the Emergence and Growth of Populist Grass Roots Protest groups in the U.S.: 2009-2014." National Science Foundation  2013-2016.
  • “Spiritual Entrepreneurialism: The Founding Process Among Non-Profit Religious Groups in the U.S., 1998-2009.” National Science Foundation. 2010—2012.
  • “Understanding the Likelihood of Occurrence and Dynamics of Campus Community Public Order Disturbances.”   National Science Foundation. 2006 –2008.
  • “Survival of Local Community Organizing Projects: 1993-2007.” (with Ed Walker) American Sociological Association (Spivak Fund). 2007-2008.
  • “Data Base Development for the Study of Social Policy.” (with Frank Baumgartner) National Science Foundation. 2001-2005.
  • “Collaborative Research on the Dynamics of Collective Protest in the U.S., 1950-1995.” (With Doug McAdam, Susan Olzak and Sarah Soule) National Science Foundation.  2000-2002. (Dynamics of Collective Action Data)
  • “Collaborative Research in Specifying the Dimensions of Bias in Media Coverage of Demonstrations in Washington, D.C., 1973-1995.” (with Clark McPhail) National Science Foundation. 1996-1999


Research Interests by Concentration

Social Institutions and Culture

social movements, collective behavior, protest groups
John McCarthy
(814) 863-8260
517 Oswald Tower University Park , PA 16802
Mailroom: 203 Oswald Tower