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Andrew L. Spivak, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology
Office: CBC-B 241


Andrew L. Spivak is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).  A graduate of The University of Oklahoma (Ph.D., 2007), he worked for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections from 1997 to 2008, beginning as a correctional officer , and later serving as a prison case manager and finally as a research analyst.  He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology, penology, research methods, statistics, and demography, supervises a sociology student internship program in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Corrections, and is a recipient of the 2010 William Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2014 Alex G. and Faye Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2015 UNLV Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award. He has presented research at numerous professional conferences and invited meetings, testified in Oklahoma, California, and Nevada state district courts as an expert witness, and has been co-principal investigator on grants from the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center and the U.S. Department of Justice. He has published two books and a dozen peer-reviewed articles in journals including Social Science Quarterly, Crime and Delinquency, Feminist Criminology, Deviant Behavior, Justice Research and Policy, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Problems of Post-Communism, Politics and Policy, Public Integrity, the Journal of Drug Education, International Quarterly of Community Health Education, and Urban Geography.  He has also been cited by journalists in the Las Vegas Review JournalLas Vegas CityLife, the Las Vegas Sun, and Vegas Seven magazine, spoken on KNPR Nevada Public Radio, and appeared in television interviews on KSNV Channel 3 Las Vegas and Fox 5 Las Vegas. His current research relates to topics including prison recidivism and prison misconduct, violent offending and victimology, juvenile justice processing, deterrence theory, tobacco and alcohol regulation, and residential segregation.

Recent Courses Taught

  • SOC 101 — Principles of Sociology
  • SOC 403 — Techniques of Social Research
  • SOC 404 — Statistical Methods in the Social Sciences
  • SOC 415 — World Population Problems
  • SOC 431 — Crime and Criminal Behavior
  • SOC 434 — Penology and Social Control

Current Research Projects

  • Youth Smoking and Prohibition on Tobacco Sales to Juvenilles
    The efficacy of juvenile tobacco restrictions, especially the 1992 “Synar Amendment” that led all of fifty U.S. states to enact prohibitions on tobacco sales to minors, is the subject of much controversy. My co-author and I are the first to combine data on Synar violation rates from all states and years available since the amendment’s implementation, assessing the connection to national rates of cigarette sales and youth smoking behavior. We find that controlling for state-level demographic variables, violation rates are significantly associated with greater youth smoking prevalence, as well as higher overall cigarette sales.
  • Feminist vs. Evolutionary Theories of Sexual Violence
    Following my dissertation work, I am attempting to explain the victim-age distribution for adolescent and adult female sexual assault victims. Using the National Crime Victimization Survey and the National Incident Based Reporting System, I aim to explain why the age distribution of rape victims diverges from the age distribution of non-sexual violent crimes. Feminist and evolutionary theorists have engaged in a bitter debate over the issue of offenders' motives, and I attempt to bridge this theoretical gap with a criminological perspective.
  • Prostitution Among Las Vegas Youth
    A colleague and I study the ethnographic experiences of adolescent sex workers in Las Vegas, Nevada, using in-depth interviews conducted between 2012 and 2014 as part of a Department of Justice grant. We examine the narratives of these youths’ first sexual and paid-sex experiences, and the nuanced interplay of victimization and agency in their circumstances. Findings reflect a range of conditions – from abuse and coercion to innovation and survival – with common themes including a lack of third party management (i.e., pimps) and introduction to first paid-sex experiences by friends and customers. Our discussion attempts to situate these results alongside the dominant narrative surrounding child sex trafficking in the United States.