Goldberg specializes in social theory, comparative and historical sociology, and political sociology. His work has focused on the sociology of citizenship, including the historical development of citizenship rights and duties, changing levels and forms of democratic participation, the role of social movements in citizenship struggles, and shifting patterns of civil inclusion and exclusion. He has explored these aspects of citizenship in relation to social class, race, ethnicity, and religion. His publications have examined racialized conflicts over the rights of relief workers in the 1930s and workfare workers in the 1990s, the historical incorporation of Jews into the civil sphere and the sociology of antisemitism, and the role of the public university in a democratic society.
Goldberg’s research has been generously supported by the Library of Congress and American Historical Association, Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Advanced Research Collaborative at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg and European Institutes for Advanced Study, and Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien.