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Mark Cooney

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Dr. Mark Cooney, Professor of Sociology, has been at the University of Georgia since 1991. He received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Virginia in 1991. In addition, Dr. Cooney holds a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from Harvard Law School, received in 1988. His departmental specialty area is crime, law, and deviance.

Dr. Cooney is interested in moral conflict, particularly violence. His publications have addressed a variety of topics, including the historical decline of elite homicide, the gravitational attraction of terrorism, and the effect of community ties on homicide.  In other work he has analyzed the social foundations of legal evidence, online hostility directed against individuals on death row, and everyday antagonism toward immigrants in Ireland.  His papers have appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Criminology, Law and Society Review and other outlets.

Dr. Cooney has published four books. Two address the conditions under which violence occurs.  Warriors and Peacemakers: How Third Parties Shape Violence (1998) analyzes the role of third parties in both promoting and preventing violent conflict.  Execution by Family: A Theory of Honor Violence examines the causes of family honor violence. Two other books address the social control of violence.  Is Killing Wrong? A Study in Pure Sociology (2009) analyzes how and why the punishment for homicide varies within and across human societies. His most recent book, Geometrical Justice: The Death Penalty in America (2022) (co-authored with Scott Phillips) uses high-quality death penalty data to present the most comprehensive test available of Donald Black's geometrical theory of law.  

Most of Dr. Cooney’s work employs a theoretical system known as social geometrical theory (created by Donald Black). Deviating from conventional conceptions of social reality, geometrical theory explains human behavior without reference to what people think, feel, or want. Social geometrical theory is also know as pure sociology.  



  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Virginia, 1991
  • S.J.D., Juridical Science, Harvard Law School, 1988
  • LL.M., Harvard University, 1981
  • LL.M., University College of Dublin, Ireland, 1980
  • LL.B., J.D., University College of Dublin, Ireland, 1976
Research Areas:
Selected Publications:
  • Cooney, Mark and Scott Phillips, 2017.  "When will academics contest intellectual conflict?' Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World X: 1-15.
  • Cooney, Mark.  2014.  "Death by family: honor violence as punishment." Punishment and Society 16 (4): 406-427.
  • Cooney, Mark. 2009.  Is Killing Wrong? A Study in Pure Sociology. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
  • Cooney, Mark and Callie Harbin Burt, 2008. "Less crime, more punishment." American Journal of Sociology 114: 491-527.
  • Cooney, Mark. 1998.  Warriors and Peacemakers: How Third Parties Shape Violence. New York: New York University Press.
  • Cooney, Mark, 1997. "From warre to tyranny: lethal conflict and the state." American Sociological Review 62: 316-338.
  • Cooney, Mark. 1994. "Evidence as partisanship." Law and Society Review 27: 833-859.
Of Note:
  • 2003. M. G. Michael Award, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia.
  • 2011  Sandy Beaver Excellence in Teaching Award, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia.
Articles Featuring Mark Cooney

Dr. Mark Cooney recently published a book co-authored with his former student Scott Phillips:  Geometrical Justice: The Death Penalty in America by Scott Phillips and Mark Cooney. Routledge (2022).


Boches, Daniel J. and Mark Cooney. 2022. “What Counts as ‘Violence?’ Semantic Divergence in   Cultural Conflicts.” Deviant Behavior

Mark Cooney’s new book, “Execution by Family: A Theory of Honor Violence” will be released the week of April 21. The book is published by Routledge.