Michael Gibson-Light

Michael Gibson-Light

Assistant Professor

  • Faculty


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 experiences and struggles of working prisoners through ethnographic observations, interviews, and historical and archival analyses.

Michael's book, Orange-Collar Labor (2022, Oxford University Press) examines lived experiences of prison life and labor. Following 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork and over 80 interviews conducted within a US state prison, 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