Sara Schoonmaker

Professor, Soc & Anthropology

Office: Soc & Anthropology, Bekins Hall #107

Phone: 909/748-8712



Academic Interests and Areas of Expertise

  • Prospects for free software communities in Brazil, France and the U.S. to create new forms of globalization from below
  • Theorizing the role of digital technologies and digital cultures in contemporary capitalism
  • Alternatives to the dominant form of neoliberal globalization and consumer culture

Current Research

Sara is currently researching how free software associations, companies and communities developed in France and comparing this development with the Brazilian and U.S. cases. In this work, Sara explores free software as a new form of property with significance for developing an alternative form of globalization from below. The project breaks new ground by focusing on the French case, which has been virtually unstudied even though France has one of the largest free software communities in the world. It takes advantage of over two decades of historical perspective, recent scholarship, and ethnographic fieldwork to provide the first synthetic analysis of free software's significance for developing an alternative form of globalization, emphasizing its scientific and technological qualities. Through interviews, participant observation and archival work, Sara will explore the roles of free software associations, companies and communities, as well as national and local governments, in developing free software. She is writing a book and scholarly articles analyzing how these free software proponents developed a community form of property that requires users and developers to allow access to the source code and thus to participate in a software-sharing community. As property, free software is globally accessible, forming an infrastructure for engaging in business, education, entertainment and more through computers and the Internet. Somewhat paradoxically, however, this technology is developed and implemented through communities grounded in national contexts, each with its own political, economic, cultural and discursive conditions for access to and further development of free software. By exploring these conditions in a global, comparative context, Sara's research thus speaks to the fundamental relationship between technological development and the complex processes that shape it in the global political economy.

Courses Offered at Redlands

  • Business and Society
  • Development and Change in the Americas
  • Consumers and Consumption
  • Children and Youth
  • Contemporary Social Theory
  • Survey Research Methods
  • Sara taught a travel course to Paris in May 2009 and plans to teach a travel course to Rio in May 2010.

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. Sociology, Boston College 1990
  • B.A. Latin American Studies, Earlham College 1981

Previous Teaching Experience

  • Assistant Professor. Colgate University, 1989-1994
  • Visiting Instructor. Hamilton College, 1988-1989

Professional Experience

Consultant. United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, 1985

Awards and Grants Received

  • University of Redlands Faculty Research Grant, 2006 ($3,000)
  • University of Redlands Faculty Research Grant, 2002 ($1,250)
  • University of Redlands Faculty Research Grant, 2001 ($3,000)
  • Colgate University Picker Fellowship, 1992 ($9,000)
  • Colgate University Research Council Major Grant, 1990 ($3,000)

Publications, Presentations and Panels

2009. Software Politics in Brazil: toward a political economy of digital inclusion. Information, Communication & Society 12 (4) 548-565.

2009. French Software Politics: The Freedom Discourse and Globalization from Below. Presented at the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

2008. Software Politics: Digital Inclusion and Alternatives to Neoliberalism in Brazil. Presented at the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

2007. Globalization from Below: Free Software and Alternatives to Neoliberalism. Development and Change 38 (6), 999-1020.

2006. Piece of Cake: Children's Birthday Celebrations and Alternatives to Consumer Culture. Sociological Focus 30 (3), 217-234.

2006. Joys of Parenting: Connecting and Affecting Children’s Lives. Presented at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

2005. Shifting Strategies of Sovereignty: Brazil and the Politics of Globalization. In Philip McMichael and Fred Buttel (Ed.), New Directions in the Sociology of Global Development (pp.301-331). JAI Press.

2005. Confronting Global Capital through Trade Politics: Brazil's Emergent Internationalism. Invited talk at University of California, Riverside speaker series on Confronting Global Capital: The Challenges of Global Democracy.

2003. High-Tech Trade Wars: Brazilian Informatics and the Politics of Globalization." Invited talk at Latin American Studies Colloquium Series. University of California, Riverside, 2003.

2002. High-Tech Trade Wars: U.S.-Brazilian Conflicts in the Global Economy. University of Pittsburgh Press.

1995. High-Tech Development Politics: New Strategies and Persistent Structures in Brazilian Informatics. The Sociological Quarterly 36 (2), 701-727.

1995. Regulation Theory and the Politics of Global Restructuring. Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 15, 213-244.

1994. Capitalism and the Code: A Critique of Baudrillard's Third Order Simulacrum. In Douglas Kellner (Ed.), Baudrillard: A Critical Reader (pp.168-188). Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.

Professional Affiliations

American Sociological Association
Pacific Sociological Association

University of Redlands students contribute more than 100,000 hours of community service annually.
students helping the community

All as part of our time-honored tradition of putting their passion, knowledge and heart to work for the betterment of the world.

Bulldogs in Service »