Ranita Ray

Associate Professor

Photo: Ranita Ray

Baca Zinn Professor of Sociology

SSCI 1062

Curriculum vitae


Sociology, University of Connecticut (2013)

Research Interests

Race and Ethnicity, Education, Gender, Inequality

Children and Youth



The Making of a Teenage Service Class

Ranita Ray

Winner of the 2018 C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems

Winner of the 2020 Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Pacific Sociological Association

Honorable Mention, 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the American Sociological Association, Section on Race, Gender, and Class 

Finalist, 2020. Bourdieu Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association, Section on the Sociology of Education

In The Making of a Teenage Service Class, Ranita Ray uncovers the pernicious consequences of focusing on risk behaviors such as drug use, gangs, violence, and teen parenthood as the key to ameliorating poverty. Ray recounts the three years she spent with sixteen poor black and brown youth, documenting their struggles to balance school and work while keeping commitments to family, friends, and lovers. Hunger, homelessness, untreated illnesses, and long hours spent traveling between work, school, and home disrupted their dreams of upward mobility. While families, schools, nonprofit organizations, academics, and policy makers stress risk behaviors in their efforts to end the cycle of poverty, Ray argues that this strategy reinforces class and racial hierarchies and diverts resources that could better support marginalized youth’s efforts to reach their educational and occupational goals.

Available for purchase here.

Recent/Select Publications:

Ray, Ranita. Forthcoming. “School as a Hostile Institution: How Black and Immigrant Girls of Color Experience the Classroom,” Gender & Society.

Ray, Ranita and Korey Tillman. 2019. “Envisioning a Feminist Urban Ethnography: Structure, Culture, and New Directions in Poverty Studies,Sociology Compass 13(1): 1-10

Ray, Ranita. 2018. “’Identity of Distance’: How Economically Marginalized Black and Latina Women Navigate Risk Discourse and Employ Feminist Ideals,Social Problems 65(4): 456–472.

Ray, Ranita. 2016. “Exchange and Intimacy in the Inner City: Rethinking Kinship Ties of the Urban Poor,”Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 45(3): 343–364.


Sociological Theory 

Social Inequality