Headshot of Ranita Ray, Ph.D.

Ranita Ray, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology
Office: CBC-B 236
Email: ranita.ray@unlv.edu


Ranita Ray (she/her) joined the UNLV faculty in 2013 after completing her doctoral studies in the same year. Ray is a feminist ethnographer of children/youth, schooling, economic marginalization, gender, and racial dominance.

Ray's book, The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City (University of California Press, 2018), challenges common wisdom that targeting “risk behaviors” such as drugs, gangs, violence, and teen parenthood among youth is key to breaking the cycle of economic and racial marginalization. This book is based on her dissertation work (partially funded by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant). The book has received numerous awards and recognitions from the American Sociological Association (ASA), Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), and Pacific Sociological Association (PSA):

  • 2018 Winner, C. Wright Mills Award
  • 2020 Winner, Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Scholarship Award
  • 2019 Honorable Mention, ASA Section on Race, Gender, and Class Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book.
  • 2020 Finalist, ASA Sociology of Education Bourdieu Best Book Award.

You can watch her TEDx Talk to learn more about the book.

Ray has published journal articles on various issues related to children/youth and urban inequalities including:

She has published several other book chapters on urban issues, youth, education, and human rights, and co-authored a book titled As The Leaves Turn Gold: Aging Experiences of Asian Americans (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012)--an account of the aging experiences of Asians Americans in the U.S.

Current Project

With support from NAEd/Spencer Foundation (as a 2019 Postdoctoral Fellow), Ray is currently preparing a new book manuscript drawing on a neighborhood based longitudinal and multi-sited ethnography which began in summer 2016 in Las Vegas. Ray is combining her immersive ethnography with in-depth interviews and archival data to understand the complex relationship between schooling, policing, gender, and racial dominance. Ray began preparing her book manuscript as a Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network Summer Institute Research Fellow at Rutgers University in 2018.

She is also actively involved in community-oriented research projects.

Teaching and Mentoring

Ray is currently working with graduate students interested in ethnography; race, gender and class inequalities; youth; and policing.

Ray regularly teaches the following graduate and undergraduate courses:

  • Modern Sociological Theories
  • Social Inequalities
  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Social Stratification