Ralph W. Larkin (May 27, 1940) is an American sociologist and research consultant. He is the author of Suburban Youth in Cultural Crisis (1979), Beyond Revolution: A New Theory of Social Movements (1986), and Comprehending Columbine (2007). He was born in Los Angeles, California on May 27, 1940, and obtained his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1961. After teaching elementary school in California, Larkin obtained a master's degree in education from California State University at Northridge in 1966, and received his Ph.D. in Sociology of Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1969. In 1970, Larkin moved to New York and worked as a research associate at the Center for Urban Education. He became an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University in 1973.
Larkin has taught coursework in the Department of Sociology at the Newark College of Arts and Science of Rutgers University, and was also a professor at the Center for the Study of Evaluation, University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education. After the publication of his work Comprehending Columbine, Larkin was contacted by the press for comment on the Columbine High School massacre, and stated that that there are multiple factors which stimulate violence in our society. Prior to writing the book, Larkin had given a seminar at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice's Center on Terrorism, entitled: "From Oklahoma City to Columbine: Paramilitary Influences on Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Larkin is a Senior Research Associate at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and owns his own consulting firm called Academic Research Consulting Service.
Larkin met fellow fellow sociologist Daniel A. Foss when they were both teaching Sociology at Rutgers University. They have frequently partnered in research on the study of social movements. The book Beyond Revolution: A New Theory of Social Movements was co-authored with Foss. Larkin and Foss have also jointly published research in sociology journals, including a piece on the white middle class youth movement of the 1960s and its relationship to later movements such as the Children of God, the Divine Light Mission, Swami Muktananda and the Revolutionary Youth Movement in Theory and Society. They later wrote a more focused article dealing with Guru Maharaj Ji and his followers, which was published in Sociological Analysis, and a piece dealing with the vocabulary utilized in these social movements, in Social Text. Larkin and Foss' research has later been cited by books on both the 1960s subculture, and on movements of social change such as the Hippie movement and other forms of counterculture and subculture.