Mary C. Brinton

Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology

Mary Brinton is the Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. Brinton is a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and a member of the Executive Committee of the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies. She joined the Harvard faculty in 2003, having previously taught at the University of Chicago for 12 years and at Cornell University for 4 years. She served as Chair of the Harvard Department of Sociology from 2010 to 2016. Brinton studied sociolinguistics as an undergraduate at Stanford University, and earned an MA in Japanese Studies and an MA and PhD in Sociology at the University of Washington.


  • Gender inequality;
  • labor markets and employment;
  • contemporary Japan;
  • social demography

Current Research Interests

Brinton’s research and teaching focus on gender inequality, labor markets and employment, social demography, and contemporary Japanese society. Her research combines qualitative and quantitative methods to study institutional change and its effects on individual action, particularly in labor markets. Brinton generally engages in primary data collection for her research projects, and has designed social surveys, interviews, and observational studies in Japan and Korea.

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“Economic action is ‘social’ insofar as its subjective meaning takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course.”— Max Weber