Jennifer E Cossyleon

Adjunct Lecturer of Justice and Peace Studies, Georgetown University

About Jennifer

Cossyleon's research focuses on local social movements; urban poverty and inequality; and race, class and gender through community engaged methods. Overarching themes in Cossyleon's writings include how women of color and returning citizens contest marginalization through collective action; how housing and criminal justice policies contour the lives of the most oppressed groups, and how kinship is deeply embedded and constructed through group mobilization. Cossyleon is the Chair Elect of the Thomas C. Hood Social Action Award Committee for the Society for the Study of Social Problems, a former Advisory Board Member for Loyola University's Center for Urban Research and Learning, and a current Mellon/ ACLS Public Fellow at Community Change.


In the News

"Healing from Carceral Oppression," Jennifer E Cossyleon, The Forge, April 12, 2021.


"Restorative Kinship: How a Local Movement of Women of Color Transforms Family Relationships" Frontiers 42, no. 2 (2021): 1-25.

lluminates how collective action shapes the kinship relationships of women of color leading a local restorative justice movement in Chicago Uses forty-seven in-depth interviews with community organizers and fifteen months of participant observations of local collective action as evidence, I highlight the intersecting processes of collective action and family life. Findings elucidate how leaders in the study, most of whom were African American and Latina mothers and grandmothers, coproduced com-munity organizing and family life. 

"Racial Discrimination in Housing: How Landlords Use Algorithms and Home Visits to Screen Tenants" (with Eva Rosen and Phillip M.E. Garboden). American Sociological Review (2021).

Studies how such discrimination operates, and the intermediaries who engage in it: landlords. Discusses how a fundamental assumption of racial discrimination research is that gatekeepers such as landlords are confronted with a racially heterogeneous applicant pool.

"Collaborating then Stepping Back: Roles for Community Organizers and Researchers in Participatory Action Research" (with Gina Spitz ), in Routledge International Handbook on Public Sociology, edited by Leslie Hossfeld, E. Brooke Kelly and Cassius Hossfeld (Routledge, 2021).

Documents how researchers and members of a nonprofit community organizing institution collaborated on a survey to understand debt, including the types, the amount, and the social consequences of debt, for economically marginalized communities of color in Chicago. Begins with the goal of impacting state and city-level policy, this Participatory Action Research built on the strengths of community members and researchers to develop research questions and survey instruments, formulate an implementation plan, and summarize results.

"“Power in Numbers”: Marginalized Mothers Contesting Individualization through Grassroots Community Organizing" in Advances in Gender Research, edited by Marcia Texler Segal, Kristy Kelly, and Vasilikie Demos (Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2019).

Notes much philanthropic and academic interests focuses on the quantifiable outcomes and impacts of collective action. Turns inward to the experiences of local social movement participants, Black and immigrant Latina mothers in Chicago. Illuminates how marginalized mothers of color contest the individualization of social problems through grassroots community organizing, gaining collective purpose and voice through the process and how we must rethink our narrow measures of movement "success."

"“Coming Out of My Shell”: Motherleaders Contesting Fear, Vulnerability, and Despair through Family-focused Community Organizing" Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 4 (January 2018).

Examines African American and Latina low-income mothers involved in local family-focused community organizing, called "motherleaders." Finds their engagement transformed their everyday lives, perceptions, and relationships. Finds motherleaders' personal narratives highlight how their experiences and understandings of community organizing are inseparable from their intersecting identities and how this type of civic engagement has the propensity to alter the lives of marginalized groups far beyond the publicly stated goals of organizations.