Photo of Justin Paulson

Justin Paulson

Director, Institute of Political Economy and Associate Professor of Sociology

Degrees:PhD (History of Consciousness, University of California-Santa Cruz), BA (English Literature, Swarthmore College)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 8858
Office:1502 Dunton Tower

Office Hours:

Scheduled via the Office 365 booking page.

Areas of Interest

Justin Paulson is a political sociologist and social theorist whose seminars, courses, and directed readings typically address questions of critical theory and intellectual history, social change, and political economy. He is the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Mentor Award (2021-2022), the Graduate Students’ Association Excellence Award in Graduate Teaching (2016), and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Award (2013). His research increasingly focuses on the historical development of settler colonial capitalism.

Dr. Paulson serves on the executive and editorial boards of the journals Studies in Political Economy and Mediations. He also serves on the advisory board of Alternate Routes and the scientific board of Moment. He is a past-Vice President of the faculty union and served two terms on the faculty Senate representing the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Prior to joining Carleton in 2008, he taught history at Seattle University, arboriculture at Linn-Benton Community College, and interdisciplinary courses at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Works in Progress (2024):

Long-term projects:
Co-investigator (with Julie Tomiak) on a SSHRC-funded partnership with the Algonquin Nation Secretariat, to research the socioeconomic contours of dispossession and capital accumulation by the forestry industry in the upper Ottawa Valley.

Monograph on the uneven reification of capital.

Single papers in progress:
“Racial anxieties and the administration of the Kipawa region summer day schools, 1907-1941”
“Slow Agency and Social Movements”
“Productive, unproductive, and necessary labour and circulation”

Recent Publications:

“Illusions and Potentials of ‘Internet Activism: A 30-year Retrospective” (under review)

“Punk Rock, Political Education, and Anti-Fascism in 1970s Great Britain” (forthcoming in edited collection from Routledge)

“Original and Ongoing Dispossessions: Settler Capitalism and Indigenous Resistance in British Columbia” (co-authored with Julie Tomiak). Journal of Historical Sociology 35:2 (2022), DOI:

“What’s Left After the Breakup of the CPGB?” (co-authored with Bruce Curtis). In Robert Latham, A.T. Kingsmith, Julian von Bargen, and Niko Block, eds.,Challenging the Right, Augmenting the Left: Recasting Leftist Imagination (Fernwood, 2020).

“Political Economy” – encyclopedia entry in Diamanti, Pendakis, & Szeman, The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (Bloomsbury, 2018).

“Capital and its ‘laws of motion’: determination, praxis, and the human science/natural science question” (co-authored with Peter Gose). In Schmidt & Fanelli, eds., Reading Capital Today (Pluto, 2017).

Recent Courses:

• SOCI 3006 Contemporary Sociological Theory: The Marxist Tradition
• SOCI 3210/20 Special Topics: Sociology of Trumpism
• SOCI 3430 Collective Action and Social Movements
• SOCI 5804 Modern Marxist Theory
• PECO 5000 Theories of Political Economy
• PECO 6000 Core Concepts in Political Economy

Graduate Student Supervision:

As of June 2024, Justin is supervising one PhD student in Sociology and two MA students in Political Economy, and a postdoctoral fellow in Political Economy. He is the second reader for six PhD students at Carleton in Sociology, Geography, Public Policy, and ICSLAC, and one PhD student in Sociology at Concordia. He is also the second reader on two MA committees in Sociology and Political Economy.

He may have more supervisory room in 2024-25, at which time he would be particularly interested in working with one or more incoming students studying the social histories and contradictions of settler colonialism in Canada and/or the theoretical intersections of Marxism, Indigenous Studies, and the racial capitalism literature.

Note: Although most Carleton departments have dropped their second language requirements, Dr. Paulson still expects doctoral candidates to demonstrate research proficiency in more than one language, and his supervisees are expected to develop any necessary language competencies during the course of their program.

Thesis Titles of Graduates:


Dr. Inga Hilmarsson (Sociology/IPE), Dissertation: “Accumulation by Dispossession: An Analysis of Social and Economic Reforms in Ukraine”, 2023.

Dr. Jenna Amirault (Sociology/IPE), “A Political Strategy for the Liberation of Women: Socialist Feminist Political Practice”, 2020.

Dr. Michael Bueckert (Sociology/IPE), “Boycotts and Backlash: Canadian Opposition to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movements from South Africa to Israel”, 2019 (with medal nomination).

Dr. Eloy Rivas Sánchez (Sociology/IPE), “Deportability, Labour, and Health in Canada’s Late Capitalism”, 2019 (with medal nomination).

Dr. Sabrina Fernandes (Sociology/IPE), “Crisis of Praxis: Depoliticization and Leftist Fragmentation in Brazil”, 2017 (winner of Senate medal and CALACS dissertation prize).

Dr. Aaron Henry (Sociology/IPE), “District Space: A Nineteenth Century Technique of Rule”, 2015 (with medal nomination).

Dr. Carlo Fanelli (Sociology), “Fragile Future: The Attack Against Public Services and Public Sector Unions in an Age of Austerity”, 2013.

MA – Theses

Joanis Sherry (Sociology), “Towards a More Critical Consciousness: Race-Making, Affect, and Counter-Knowledges”, 2019 (with medal nomination).

Yumi Kotani (IPE), “Envisioning Equity: Coalition and Partnership Strategies of Ottawa’s Equity and Inclusion Lens”, 2014 (with distinction).

Michael Bueckert (IPE), “Reification and Alternatives to Development”, 2013 (with medal nomination).

Kirsten Francescone (IPE), “Paths of Development in Bolivia: Contradictions of the Proceso de Cambio“, 2012.

Sabrina Fernandes (IPE), “The Cursinho Industry and the Advancement of the Neoliberal Agenda for Access to Education in Brazil”, 2012 (with medal nomination).

Aaron Henry (IPE), “Export Development Canada, Capital, and Political Risk: From a Keynesian to a Neoliberal Regime of Spatial Production”, 2010.

Tamara Paradis (Sociology), “Neoliberal Digitality, Labour and Leisure in an MMOG: An Ethnography and Analysis”, 2010.

MA – Major Research Essays

Sophie Robinson (IPE), “Redistribution, Equity, and the End of Poverty…All for One Low Price? Basic Income and Social Reproduction in Canada,” 2021.

Tessa Blaikie (IPE), “From the Roots of Violence to the Roots for Allied Relationships,” 2013.

Shawna Holmes (Sociology), “The Revolution Will Not Appear in Your News Feed: An Analysis of Activism in Online Social Networking,” 2010.