Headshot of Andrew L. Spivak, Ph.D.

Andrew L. Spivak, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology & Undergraduate Coordinator


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 research analyst.  A recipient of 2010 William Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2014 Alex G. and Faye Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2015 UNLV Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2016 Nevada Regents Teaching Award, he currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology, penology, research methods, statistics, and demography, and supervises a sociology student internship program in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Corrections. Dr. Spivak’s research, twice funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, has addressed topics including prison inmate demographics and recidivism, neighborhood policing, juvenile prostitution, juvenile justice processing, violent behavior, tobacco regulation compliance, and residential segregation. He has published two books and numerous articles and reports. Also active in public sociology, he has been cited by journalists in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Las 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • LGBT Special Needs Offenders
    This project, in collaboration with one of the UNLV Department of Sociology’s doctoral students, explores issues related to LGBT inmates in prisons and jails, including prevalence and demographics, victimization, social/cultural challenges related to LGBT prisoners, administration and housing, healthcare and programming.