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Assistant Professor of Sociology
Expertise: Poverty, Race and Gender
Ranita Ray is an ethnographer studying and writing about urban poverty, class, gender, race, and educational and work trajectories of marginalized black and brown youth. She is currently conducting a multi-year and multi-sited ethnographic project that explores the relationship between education, poverty, social mobility, and policing in marginalized communities in Las Vegas.
Drawing on three years of immersed fieldwork among a group of black and Latina/o youth from a marginalized community in northeastern United States, her book, The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City (University of California Press, 2017), challenges common wisdom that targeting “risk behaviors” such as drugs, gangs, violence, and teen parenthood is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. She argues that overemphasis on drugs, gangs, violence, and teen parenthood reinforces race, class and gender inequalities.
Her first book, As The Leaves Turn Gold: Aging Experiences of Asian Americans (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012), was a co-authored account of the aging experiences of Asian-Americans.
Ray is also actively involved in community-oriented research projects, and mentors undergraduate and graduate students studying poverty, social inequalities, intersectional feminisms, and contemporary theories.