Michael Gibson-Light

Michael Gibson-Light

Assistant Professor


punishment, Labor, Inequality

Professional Biography

Michael is an Assistant Professor of Sociology & Criminology at the University of Denver specializing in the study of punishment, work, and inequality. His research illuminates the often-obscured lives and labors of working prisoners through ethnographic observations, interviews, and historical and archival analyses.

Michael's current book, Orange-Collar Labor, forthcoming from Oxford University Press, examines lived experiences of prison life and labor. Following 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in a US state prison complex where he worked alongside imprisoned workers, it explores the structure and practices of work behind bars. In so doing, it documents the reproduction of social inequalities in this setting.


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Arizona, 2019
  • MA, Sociology, University of Arizona, 2013
  • BA, Sociology, University of Missouri - St. Louis, 2009

Professional Affiliations

  • American Sociological Association
  • American Society of Criminology
  • Law and Society Association