Mark Gross is a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University's Population Studies & Training Center. His research focuses on vigilante violence and informal social control in South Africa. His dissertation, More Than Just ‘Mob Violence’: An In-Depth Look at Vigilante Violence in South African Townships, is based on extensive fieldwork and explains the geographic variations in South African vigilante violence by drawing on the well-established literature on social disorganization, informal social control, and violence. A solo authored paper from his dissertation, "Vigilante violence and 'forward panic' in Johannesburg's townships," has recently been published in Theory and Society. 

Mark has also done research on racial inequality and residential segregation in the U.S. and family demography in Africa. Mark’s work has resulted in multiple conference presentations, including at the Population Association of America and American Sociological Association annual meetings, and two co-authored publications, ““Doing” and “Undoing” Gender in Fathering Research: Evidence from the Birth to Twenty Cohort Study in South Africa” in Fathering and “Kin in Daily Routines: Time Use and Childrearing in Rural South Africa” in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies.

In addition to his dissertation, Mark is currently working on a project that positions vigilante violence in South African townships as a form of contentious politics. Countering traditional narratives that view this violence as merely “mob violence,” that is, sporadic and spontaneous, he argues that vigilante violence is a form of contentious politics reflecting the state’s failure to provide adequate policing and security in marginalized communities. 

Mark is a passionate and experienced instructor. He has taught four semesters of undergraduate courses of his own design, at the University of Maryland-College Park and Hunter College of the City University of New York.


Areas of Interest

  • Violence, Contentious Politics, Policing, Africa, Race/Ethnicity


  • MA
    Sociology, University of Maryland- College Park
  • PhD
    2016, Sociology, University of Maryland-College Park
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
SOCY241 Inequality in American Society Spring 2012 Syllabus


  • My current research focuses on neighborhood cohesion and vigilante violence in South African townships.
Mark C Gross
mark_gross [at]