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 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 margianlization, gender, and racial dominance. Her 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).

Ray's book The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City received the 2018 C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems as well as an Honorable Mention for 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award Presented by the American Sociological Association’s Section on Race, Gender, and Class.

Ray received a 2019 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship for her current longitudinal ethnography, which explores the complexities of schooling, gender and racial dominance, based in Las Vegas.

Ray has published journal articles on various issues related to children/youth and urban inequalities including reproductive justice and teen parenthood as a public/moral health panic (Social Problems); kinship ties under the constraints of poverty (Journal of Contemporary Ethnography); pediatric participation (The American Journal of Bioethics); neuroenhancers and educational inequalities (The American Journal of Bioethics); new direction in poverty studies (Sociology Compass).

Ray has published several other book chapters on urban issues, youth, education, and human rights.

Ranita's article "'Identity of Distance': How Economically Marginalized Black and Latina Women Navigate Risk Discourse and Employ Feminist Ideals" received the 2019 American Sociological Association Race, Gender, and Class Section Best Article Award.

Ray has also 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.

Ray 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