Associate Professor of Sociology


Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1998

M.L.I.S., University of California, Berkeley, 1987

B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1984

Focus of Research

Sociology of Culture, Mass Media, Consumption and Marketing, Book Industry, Natural Foods Industry.

Contact Information



Laura J. Miller

Laura Miller

Laura J. Miller joined Brandeis in 2002, having previously taught at the University of Western Ontario and Vassar College. She teaches courses in the sociology of culture, the mass media, and urban sociology.

Her research focuses on the intersection of cultural and economic factors within industries characterized by moral commitments to their products.

She is currently writing a book titled, "Building Nature's Market: The Business and Politics of Natural Foods." This project, which draws on both interviews and archival research, examines the historical relationship between the health/natural foods industry and natural foods as a social and cultural movement.

Her 2006 book, "Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption" (University of Chicago Press), received the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Culture Book Award in 2007.  That work looked at the conflict between chain and independent booksellers as a way to examine, first, the clash between widespread cultural meanings attached to books and the economic requirements of successfully competing in any business, including bookselling, and second, how business practices reflect and create particular cultural models of consumption.

Download Miller's curriculum vitae (PDF)

Recent Publications


Reluctant Capitalists book cover "Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption." University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Selected Articles

"Whither the Professional Book Publisher in an Era of Distribution on
Demand.  In Blackwell’s International Companion to Media Studies: Production, edited by Vicki Mayer. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming)

"Perpetual Turmoil: Book Retailing in the Twenty-First Century United States." (Logos: Journal of the World Publishing Community, 2011)

"Selling the Product." In A History of the Book in America, Volume 5: The Enduring Book: Print Culture in Postwar America, edited by David Paul Nord, Joan Shelley Rubin, and Michael Schudson. (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

"Saving Books from the Market: Price Maintenance Policies in the United States and Europe." In Citizenship and Participation in the Information Age, edited by Manjunath Pendakur and Roma Harris (Garamond Press, 2002)

"The Best-Seller List as Marketing Tool and Historical Fiction." (Book History, 2000)

"Shopping for Community: The Transformation of the Bookstore Into a Vital Community Institution." (Media, Culture and Society, 1999)

"Family Togetherness and the Suburban Ideal." (Sociological Forum, 1995)