Peter J. Burke is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. He is the 2003 winner of the Cooley-Mead Award for career contributions to social psychology. He was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004 and Fellow for the Association for Psychological Science in 2006. He received his BA degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1961, his MA from Yale University in 1964 and his PhD from Yale University in 1965. He took a position at Indiana University where he went from Assistant Professor to Professor and served as chair of the department from 1978 through 1982. In 1988, he moved to Washington State University as Professor and Research Scientist. In 2002 moved to the University of California, Riverside, where he was chair from 2003 to 2005.
He has published over 75 articles and chapters, which have appeared in top sociology and psychology journals. He has also authored or coauthored four books, including most recently Identity Theory (coauthored with Jan Stets, Oxford University Press, 2009) and Contemporary Social Psychological Theories (Stanford University Press, 2006). He has served as Chair of the Theory Section of the American Sociological Association (2008-2009), Chair of the Social Psychology Section of the American Sociological Association (2000-2001). In addition, he has served on the councils of the Mathematical Sociology section of the ASA, the Social Psychology Section of the ASA, and the Theory Section of the ASA. He served as editor for Social Psychology Quarterly (1983-1988). He is a member of American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Sociological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Pacific Sociological Association, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and the Sociological Research Association.
He is one of the originators of Identity Theory, and his research draws on Complexity Theory, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Simulation to understand (1) how individuals, acting as agents with particular identities, come together in interaction to create larger aggregates, groups, organizations and societies, and (2) how these social structures constrain and limit the kinds of actions that individuals can take. His current research program includes a project with Jan Stets that brings together data from seven different experimental conditions to explore the emotional reactions to whether or not, and the extent to which, one’s moral identity is verified by others. Other work includes a project to better understand ethnic identity, and another on the sources and forms of self-esteem (with Jan Stets).