Our Faculty

headshot of Leslie C. Gates

Leslie C. Gates

Professor; Undergraduate Director



Leslie Gates is currently a professor of sociology and a faculty affiliate of the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies Program. She is a historical sociologist who studies politics in Latin America.

The shock of the Sandinista defeat in Nicaragua’s 1990 presidential election hooked her. Ever since, she has been intrigued by the forces that stymie movements for greater self-determination in the region. She has sought to understand the decline of Mexico’s once powerful labor movement in the neoliberal era, the deployment of gendered labor reforms by El Salvador’s military regimes, the surprising return of the left in Venezuela and, more recently, the rise of right-wing outsiders.

Two Fulbright awards have funded her research in Mexico and Venezuela. She has served as the chair of the Section on Political Economy of the World System of the ASA. While her approach to research is historical, she uses both quantitative and qualitative techniques to analyze empirical evidence. She welcomes the opportunity to work with graduate students with similar interests, regardless of regional focus.

Selected publications

Gates, Leslie. 2023. Capitalist Outsiders: Oil’s Legacies in Mexico and Venezuela. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitt Latin American Series.

  • Winner of the 2024 Barrington Moore Book Award from the Section on Comparative Historical Sociology of the American Sociological Association
  • Co-winner of the 2024 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (co-winner)
  • Received Honorable Mention for the 2024 Immanuel Wallerstein Memorial Book Award from the Political Economy of the World-System Section of the American Sociological Association

Gates, Leslie C. 2024. “The Mexican Haunting of Venezuela’s Oil Workers (1912-1948): A Legacy of Capitalist IncorporationJournal of World-Systems Research. Vol 30, Issue #1: 398-420.

Gates, Leslie, Alena Gericke, Diana Branduse, Jennifer K. Emery. 2023. “The Antibusiness Basis of Leftist “Breakthrough” Presidencies in Neoliberal Latin America”. Latin American Perspectives. Volume 50, Issue 6: pp. 239–258.

Gates, Leslie C. and Mehmet Deniz. 2019. “Puzzling Politics: A Methodology for Turning World-Systems Analysis Inside-Out.” Journal of World-Systems Research. Vol 25, Issue #1: 59-82.

Griffith, Kati and Leslie C. Gates. 2019. “Worker Centers: Labor Policy as a Carrot, Not a Stick,” Harvard Law & Policy Review. Vol 14, Issue #1: 602-627.

Gates, Leslie C. 2018. “Populism: A puzzle without (and for) World-Systems Analysis.” Journal of World-Systems Research. Vol 24, Issue #2: 325-336.

Gates, Leslie. 2014. “Interest Groups in Venezuela: Lessons from the failure of a ‘Model Democracy’ and the rise of a Bolivarian democracyJournal of Public Affairs. Volume 14 Number 3 pp 240–253.

  • Best Article 2012 in the Social Science, Venezuelan Section, Latin American Studies Association

Gates, Leslie. 2010. Electing Chávez: The Business of Anti-Neoliberal Politics in Venezuela.Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitt Latin American Series.

Gates, Leslie. 2009. “Theorizing Business Power in the Semiperiphery: Mexico 1970-2000Theory and Society. 38:57-95.

  • Best Article Award 2009, Political Economy of World-System Section, American Sociological Association


  • PhD, MA, University of Arizona
  • BA, Princeton University

Research Interests

  • Politics in Latin America
  • Historical sociology
  • State-business relations

More Info

Radio interview with KPFA's 'Against the Grain'

Research Profile