Headshot of Ranita Ray, Ph.D.

Ranita Ray, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Sociology


I am an ethnographer focused on class, race, and urban poverty, as well as educational and work trajectories of marginalized youth. I joined the UNLV faculty in 2013 after completing my doctoral studies at the University of Connecticut in the same year.

Drawing on three years of immersed fieldwork among a group of black and Latina/o youth from a marginalized community in northeastern U.S., my 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.

You can read a journal article (on kinship ties under the constraints of poverty) based on my fieldwork. Another article from this research, titled “Identity of Distance: How Economically Marginalized Black and Latina Women Navigate Risk Discourse and Employ Feminist Ideals,” is forthcoming in Social Problems.

My 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 Asians Americans.

I am 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.

I’m also actively involved in community oriented research projects, and I teach and mentor undergraduate and graduate students studying poverty, social inequalities, intersectional feminisms, and contemporary theories.