Rubin, Ashley

Assistant ProfessorSociology

Contact Information

Mailing Address: 
3359 Mississauga Road
Postal Code: 
L5L 1C6
Ashley Rubin


Professor Rubin received her PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2013 and joined the University of Toronto in 2016. She teaches Criminology, Law and Society courses on criminological theory, organizational theory, and social control.

Rubin's current research reexamines the dynamics of penal change, focusing on the introduction of new punishments in America and England from the seventeenth century through the early twentieth century. Her interdisciplinary research draws on neo-institutional theory, the law and society literature, and socio-historical studies of punishment. She has projects exploring the uses of penal incarceration before first state prisons, the rise and decline of the proto-prison and modern prison, and the effect of prison authorizations on existing punishments in the United States. Her research also examines the theoretical consequences of analyzing prisons as organizations, including recognizing the dynamics of the diffusion of penal innovations, the tension between organizational concerns and penal goals, and the professionalization efforts of early prison administrators. 

She is currently in the final stages of preparing a monograph (under contract with Cambridge University Press, exp. 2020) on Eastern State Penitentiary (opened in 1829 in Philadelphia, PA, USA) that explores the role of prison administrators in securing that historic prison’s rejection of field-wide norms despite intense criticism and pressures to the contrary. She has additional projects that focus on prisoners and their experience of and relationship to the prison regime; these projects focus on the causes and consequences of that behavior frequently described as resistance. 

Selected Publications

Rubin, Ashley T. (Forthcoming) “Punishment’s Legal Templates: A Theory of Formal Penal Change.” Law & Society Review, Vol. XX, Issue X, pp. XXX-XXX.

Rubin, Ashley T., and Keramet Reiter. (Forthcoming) “Continuity in the Face of Penal Innovation: Revisiting the History of American Solitary Confinement.” Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. XX, Issue X, pp. XXX-XXX.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2018. “Prison History.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Ed. Henry Pontell. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2018. “The Prehistory of Innovation: A Longer View of Penal Change.” Punishment & Society, Vol. 20, Issue 2, pp. 192–216.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2018. “Professionalizing Prison: Primitive Professionalization and the Administrative Defense of Eastern State Penitentiary, 1829–1879.” Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 43, Issue 1, pp. 182–211.

Rubin, Ashley T., and Michelle S. Phelps. 2017. “Fracturing the ‘Penal State’: State Actors and the Role of Conflict in Penal Change.” Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 21, Issue 4, pp. 422–440.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2017. "Resistance as Agency? Incorporating the Structural Determinants of Prisoner Behaviour." British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 57, Issue 3, pp. 644-663.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2017. "The Consequences of Prisoners' Micro-resistance." Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 42, Issue 1, pp. 138-162.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2016. "Penal Change as Penal Layering: A Case Study of Proto-Prison Adoption and Capital Punishment Reduction, 1785-1822." Punishment & Society, Vol. 18, Issue 4, pp. 420-441.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2015. "A Neo-Institutional Account of Prison Diffusion." Law & Society Review, Vol. 49, Issue 2, pp. 365-399. 

Rubin, Ashley T. 2015. "Resistance or Friction: Understanding the Significance of Prisoners' Secondary Adjustments." Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 19, Issue 1, pp. 23-42.

Rubin, Ashley T. 2014. "Three Waves of American Prison Development, 1790-1920." In Mathieu Deflem (Ed.) Punishment and Incarceration: A Global Perspective (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 19). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, 139-158.


Criminology, Law and Society; Social Theory; Stratification, Work and Labour Markets
PhD (Jurisprudence and Social Policy, University of California Berkeley)