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Elaine Bell Kaplan

Associate Professor of Sociology

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-8865
Office: KAP 360

Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website


Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 12/1988

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 01/01/1999-  
Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 2007-2008   
Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, 01/01/1992-01/01/1999  
Assistant Professor, San Jose State University, 01/01/1991-01/01/1992  
Assistant Professor, Temple University, 01/01/1989-01/01/1991  

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Elaine Bell Kaplan analyzes and researches structural conditions that restrict opportunities for racial/ethnic groups and children and youth. She has published various articles on adolescent issues using a gender, race, and class perspective. Her current research explores the institutional and social factors that influence or hamper the social mobility by race, class and gender. Her forthcoming book to be published by Temple Press, “We Live in the Shadow” Inner-City Kids Tell Their Stories through Photographs, explores inner-city life from the perspectives of 54 Black and Latino teenagers who live in inner-city Los Angeles. The research findings will provide an in-depth study that deepens and enriches current theory by making explicit the complexities surrounding the lives of inner-city minority teenagers. Her next research project examines the lives of inner-city families. This qualitative study will be concerned with the ways in which inner-city families’ socioenomic status impact their environment and their institutional relationships. She will also consider the kinds of social support and policies needed to enhance the lives of these mothers and their families. These ethnographic studies of will deepen and enrich current theory by making explicit the complexities surrounding the lives of Inner-city women, men and their families.

Research Keywords

race and ethnic relations, gender, social inequality, adolescents, qualitative methods, visual sociology

Research Specialties

Race and ethnic relations; social inequality; sociology of childhood; gender, qualitative methodology, visual sociology

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

"Issues of Race and Racism", Pacific Sociology Association, Roundtable/Panel, San Francisco, Pacific Sociology Association, 08/18/2014  
"We Live in the Shadow", The Sociology of Social Problems Conference, Keynote Lecture, Paper, San Francisco, Sociology of Social Problems Conference, Invited, 08/15/2014  
"In Pursuit of the American Dream: A Study of First Generation College Students", The Pacific Sociological Annual Meeting, Talk/Oral Presentation, San Francisco, CA., PSA, 2004-2005   

Other Presentations

"the Challenges and Passion of Doing Research on the Inner-City", Distinguished Speaker Series, Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, USC, Fall 2010   
"Black Women's Socio-Economic Concerns", Guest Lectcurer, Gender Studies, USC, Fall 2009   

Other Research

Ethnographic study draws on the literature of care and parents' perceptions of their teenagers' needs and their spouses' ability to perform the necessary caring tasks., 2009-2010   
Qualitative study focuses on unorthodox child-rearing strategies used by Black single mothers to cope with their at-risk teenagers in the absence of community. support, 2009-2010   



Kaplan, E. B. (2013). We Live in the Shadow, Inner-City kids tell their Stories through Photographs. Philadelphia, PA.: Temple University Press. PubMed Web Address
Kaplan, E. B. (1997). Not Our Kind of Girl: Unravelling the Myths of Black Teenage Motherhood, 1997. Berkeley. California: University of California, Berkeley.

Journal Article

Kaplan, E. B. (2010). Doing Care on the Run: Family Strategies in the Contested Terrian of Gender and Institutional Intransigence. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Vol. 39 (6), pp. 587-618.

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

Blog, Blog, "Profiling Black and Latino kids as Ghetto Thugs Criminals." on, Fall 2013   
Presentation, Featured story of presentation, "Children of the Shadow and Light" on Dornsife, USC news stories website, Fall 2013   
Distance Learning Lecture, Presented lecture on Social Inequality via Videotape and interview for college level Sociology telecourse produced by The LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications. National distribution. The course integrates video, textbooks, study guides, a web site and other material designed for adult distance learning students. , 2000-2001   

New Courses Developed

Visual Sociology of the Urban City and its Residents, Sociology 365, Visual Sociology blends a grassroots approach to photography and social action. It provides cameras not to health specialists, policy makers, or professionals, but to people with least access to those who make decisions affecting their lives. This course has three main goals: (1.) to enable people to record and reflect their community's strengths and concerns; (2) to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about personal and community issues through large and small group discussions of photographs; and (3)to reach policy makers, Spring 2011   

Honors and Awards

Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the Race, Gender, and Class Section of the American Sociological Association, 2000  

Service to the Profession

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Guest Editor, Journal of African American Studies, 2007-2008   
Board of Editors, Women Studies and Black Families, 2007-2008   

Professional Memberships

American Sociological Association, 2011-2012   
The Pacific Sociological Association, 2011-2012   

Review Panels

Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program, Fulbrigth Specialist Program Peer Reviewer, 2011-2012   
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