Celso M. Villegas joined the Kenyon community in 2011 as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in International Studies. His substantive research interests lie in the nexus between political economy, culture and democracy in the developing world, particularly in Latin America and Southeast Asia. He also focuses on comparative-historical methodology, looking at how historical sociologists conceptualize time.

Villegas has published work on comparative-historical methodology and comparative middle-class formation in the Philippines, South Korea, Ecuador and Venezuela. He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled "Social Origins of Distinction and Democracy: Revolutions 'from the Middle' in the Philippines and Latin America." 

Villegas teaches courses on the comparative history of democratization, civil society, comparative-historical methods, sociological theory, identity formation in the Global South and an introductory course in sociology, Public Life.

Areas of Expertise

Sociology of development, comparative and historical methods, social change, political regimes, class formation, the Philippines and Latin America.


2012 — Doctor of Philosophy from Brown University

2005 — Master of Arts from Brown University

2003 — Bachelor of Arts from Connecticut College, summa cum laude

Courses Recently Taught

This course is designed for sophomores who plan to major in international studies. It explores the evolution of modern international society by examining the roles of industrialization, capitalism, nationalism, individualism and other elements of modernity in propelling and directing the flow of wealth, people and ideas between different regions of the world. In addition to studying general political and economic changes, the course considers various local and personal perspectives, giving life to otherwise abstract forces and complicating attempts to construct a single overarching narrative of "modernization," "Westernization" or "development." Among the issues to be examined are the causes and effects of international economic disparities, migration, cultural tensions, and stresses on the environment. In surveying major viewpoints and illustrative cases within these themes, the course is meant to serve as an introduction to the international studies major, utilizing a variety of academic disciplines and providing a foundation for further study of relations between different nations and peoples of the world. As part of the course, students will complete a research paper related to the geographic area where they plan to go for their off-campus experience. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every year.

What forces enable or constrain our successes (and failures) in life? Should what goes on in our intimate relationships be up for public debate? If presented with evidence of a serious social problem, how should we act? The answers to these questions are demonstrably sociological; they require a rigorous and disciplined way to discern private troubles from public issues. This course explores the sometimes obvious and oftentimes hidden nature of our public lives: how we learn to interact and to understand each other, how we navigate life through and with institutions, and how our very essence as human beings is affected by historical and global forces. Through close reading and class discussion, this course introduces the basics of modern sociology and the discipline’s general contributions to our collective knowledge of the human condition. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation course requirement for the major. No prerequisite.

Why are some countries more democratic than others? What effects have industrialization and colonization had on developing world democracies? This course probes those questions from a comparative and sociological perspective. We will explore the relationship between political regimes and socioeconomic factors, like class relations, state-led development, and racial and ethnic tensions. We will look at the contrasting political and social trajectories of European nations, the United States, East Asia and Latin America, using historical texts, sociological theory and in-depth case study research. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of instructor.\n

Inspiring stories, dog whistles like "looters,” "thugs" and "Real Americans," authentic populists and out-of-touch elites, graphic images of torture and the ecstasy of jubilant crowds: these cultural features of our political world stoke our emotions and engage our senses. Do these feelings and experiences exist to manipulate us towards the goals of others? Or do the emotional and sensuous features of politics have power in and of themselves? This course explores culture and politics by looking at the sociological foundations of narratives, coded language, performances and iconic imagery as they pertain to a variety of political phenomenon. Cases and applications to be explored include populist politics, social movements, civility vs. violence, identity formation, electoral campaigns and the conduct of war and terrorism. This counts toward the culture and identity or institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.

This course will help to guide students to draw linkages from classical theory to the formation of contemporary sociological theory. Discussion will be guided by the personal biographies of the theorists: their family background, where they were educated and what events or persons they were influenced by as they formulated the theories for which they are known. Emphasis is placed upon acquiring breadth of knowledge, rather than depth. For a more comprehensive understanding of many of the theorists discussed in this class, students are directed to SOCY 361 and SOCY 362. This course is not intended for seniors, although it is required for all majors. Students are advised to enroll in this class as soon as they begin to consider majoring in sociology. This counts toward the theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every year.

This mid-level course will explore the methods that sociologists use to study popular culture and media products, and will examine the connections of popular culture and media to broader social patterns within American society. Course material will cover a range of subjects, including movies, television, the news, novels, and advertising. Students will become familiar with several approaches to the study of popular culture and mass media, and examine what these cultural products can reveal about social norms, trends, and relationships. In addition to empirical assessments of the content of cultural products, the course will examine the institutional structures that shape their production and distribution, as well as patterns of audience consumption and interpretation. This work will culminate with the opportunity to design a research project that uses sociological methods to critically interpret and analyze popular culture products. Prerequisite: foundation course in sociology or permission of instructor.

Social scientists have used comparative-historical methods to answer "big questions" about social and political phenomena. Indeed, focusing on historical patterns in small numbers of key cases, scholars have contributed canonical texts about democratization, revolutions, identity formation and economic development (among others). Students will work closely with exemplary texts, learn and apply different techniques of causal inference and explore the ongoing debate between comparative-historical methods and quantitative analysis. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: SOCY 271 or LGLS 371 or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.

For many scholars, activists and development professionals, a robust civil society increases the quality of democratic governance. NGOs, self-help organizations and even singing clubs have been seen as democratic bulwarks. On the other hand, some observers think civil society may weaken democratic institutions and may even be vehicles for extremism. What is civil society and how does it relate to democracy? Who belongs in civil society? Can we repair damaged civic relationships? To address those puzzles, this course explores contemporary theories of civil society through the work of four thinkers who extend the work of Tocqueville, Marx, Weber and Durkheim -- Robert Putnam, Antonio Gramsci, Jürgen Habermas and Jeffrey Alexander. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.

Individual study is an exception, not a routine option, with details to be negotiated between the student(s) and the faculty member and the department chair. The course may involve investigation of a topic engaging the interest of both student and professor. In some cases, a faculty member may agree to oversee an individual study as a way of exploring the development of a regular curricular offering. In others, the faculty member may guide one or two advanced students through a focused topic drawing on his or her expertise, with the course culminating in a substantial paper. The individual study should involve regular meetings at which the student and professor discuss assigned material. The professor has final authority over the material to be covered and the pace of work. The student is expected to devote time to the individual study equivalent to that for a regular course. Individual studies will be awarded 0.5 units of credit. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline.

This course is for students pursuing departmental honors. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: senior standing and sociology major.

This course is for students pursuing departmental honors. Permission of instructor and department chair required.