Raymond R. Swisher

raymond swisherProfessor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies


  • PhD, Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • MA, Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • MCRP, City and Regional Planning, The Ohio State University
  • BA, Geography, The Ohio State University

Curriculum Vitae   

Professor Swisher is Director of Graduate Studies for the department, and teaches and does research in the areas of criminology and social psychology, using a combination of life course and social stress theoretical frameworks. His research focuses on risk factors in the lives of low income families. These risks have included living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, exposure to violence, and parental incarceration. More recent work has focused on issues of social mobility, such as changes in neighborhoods across the life course and educational mobility across generations.

With former graduate student Chris Dennison, he has examined the relationship between educational mobility and changes in crime. In a paper published in Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency, they found that upward educational mobility was associated with decreases in crime between adolescence and young adulthood, whereas downward mobility predicted increases in crime.

In a follow-up to that research, he and Dennison have focused on first generation college students and particular challenges they face in the completion of their undergraduate degrees. In particular, they have examined the role of the “party subculture” on campuses. In a paper recently published in Social Forces, they find that binge drinking and marijuana use are particularly detrimental to the graduation prospects of first-generation students, whereas such substance use has little effect among continuing-generation students.

A continuing line of work has examined the collateral consequences of parental incarceration for families and children. Swisher and colleagues have found parental incarceration to increase risks of depression, delinquency, marijuana and other hard drug use, and future crime and incarceration. These studies have been published in journals such as Criminology, Addiction, and the Journal of Research on Adolescence. He was invited to speak about this research at the White House as part of an NSF and American Bar Foundation sponsored conference “Parental Incarceration in the United States: Bringing Together Research and Policy to Reduce Collateral Costs to Children.”

In another line of research, Swisher and colleagues Kuhl and Chavez received funding from NICHD to examine the relationship between changes in neighborhood poverty over time and trajectories of delinquency and violence across the life course. This research builds on a recent paper published in Social Forces, which examined trajectories of neighborhood poverty in the transition to adulthood, with attention to inequalities across racial and ethnic subgroups.

Finally, Swisher has conducted research examining the consequences of exposure to violence and neighborhood poverty for adolescent survival expectations, their sense of certainty that they will survive into adulthood. With a former BGSU graduate student, this research has appeared in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.