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Jody Agius Vallejo

Associate Professor of Sociology

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-5047
Office: KAP 364C

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Irvine, 2008
M.A. Sociology, University of California, Irvine, 2006
M.A. Demographic and Social Analysis, University of California, Irvine, 2003

Postdoctoral Training

Visiting Research Fellow, Joint with The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, 2008-2009   

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Jody Agius Vallejo specializes in immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, and social stratification. Her book, "Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class," (Stanford University Press 2012) examines patterns of mobility and socioeconomic incorporation among the Mexican-origin middle class in Southern California. "Barrios to Burbs" addresses the following questions: How are upwardly mobile and middle-class Mexican Americans integrating into America’s core social structures? Are they incorporating into the white middle-class, as traditional assimilation theory predicts or are they forging a new route where they follow a minority pathway into the middle class? Second, what are the mechanisms that promote upward mobility and integration into the middle class? And finally, what is it like to be Mexican American and middle class in a society that holds a narrow view of the class structure of the population? Vallejo systematically address these issues with a mixed methodological approach, which combines the qualitative strengths of traditional sociological inquiry (in-depth interviews, participant observation, ethnography) with demographic analysis of representative statistics from the U.S. Census. Her newest project, The Latino Elite: Entrepreneurship, Community, and Mobility, is a study of middle-class and professional Latino entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. Building on theories of ethnic entrepreneurship, assimilation, racial/ethnic identification, and civic engagement, this research uses in-depth interviews, ethnography, and statistics to investigate the rise of Latino business owners in the formal economy, the institutions that support them, their patterns of ethnic philanthropy, the factors that shape their racial/ethnic identification, and the challenges and successes they experience as formal-sector entrepreneurs. Vallejo's third project, in which she is a Co-Pi with Lisa Keister (Duke), examines heterogeneous assimilation outcomes of today's new immigrants via the lens of wealth accumulation and business ownership, with a focus on Chinese Americans. This NSF funded study relies on mixed methods including extensive quantitative analysis of large data sets and an ethnographic study of Chinese American business owners in Southern California. Other projects include analyses of middle-class Mexican Americans' experiences of subtle discrimination and microagressions in the white collar workplace and the mechanisms, such as early familial obligations, that lead to differential patterns of educational attainment between Mexican Americans and Chinese and Vietnamese Americans.

Research Keywords

immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, Mexican-origin middle class, middle-class minorities, Latino entrepreneurs, Wealth accumulation

Research Specialties

Immigrant Incorporation, Race/Ethnicity, Mexican-Origin Middle Class, Middle-Class Minorities, Latino Entrepreneurs

Funded Research

Contracts and Grants Awarded

Ethnic Philanthropy as a Non-Traditional Safety Net Mechanism (UC Davis Center for Poverty Research), Jody Agius Vallejo, $25,000, 2015-2016   
Collaborative Research: Heterogeneity and Adaptation in American Wealth (National Science Foundation), Jody Agius Vallejo, Lisa Keister, $315,000, 2013-2014   
How do Latino-Owned Banks and Elite Latino Entrepreneurs Facilitate Economic Development in Los Ange (Lust Center for Real Estate), Jody Agius Vallejo, $25,000, 2013-2014   
Class and Assimilation Among Latino Entrepreneurs in the Formal Economy (ASA/NSF: Fund for Advancement of the Discipline), Jody Agius Vallejo, $6,900, 07/01/2011-07/01/2013  
Brown Picket Fences (American Fellow Association of University Women), Jody Agius Vallejo, $6,000, 2011-2012   
Immigration and Trajectories to the Middle Class (National Science Foundation Dissertation Grant), Jody Agius Vallejo, $7,004, 2006-2007   

USC Funding

Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Initiative. Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation Among Los Angeles' Latino Middle Class: 1, $25,000, 2010-2011   

Affiliations with Research Centers, Labs, and Other Institutions

American Studies and Ethnicity
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration
Chicano and Latino Studies

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

""Immigration, Social Mobility, and The New Demographics." ", Young Leaders Conferences, The Council for the United States and Italy, Trieste, Italy, Keynote Lecture, Trieste, Italy, Invited, Fall 2012   
"Leveling the Playing Field: Patterns of Ethnic Philanthropy Among Middle-and-Upper-Class Latino Entrepreneurs", Immigration and Entrepreneurship Conference , Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, University of Maryland, Center for the History of a New America, Invited, Fall 2012   
"Panelist: Where Do I Go From Here? Using Your MA and PhD in Sociology", Annual Meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association, Roundtable/Panel, Oakland, California, Invited, Spring 2010   
"Panelist: Navigating the Academic Job Market", American Sociological Association International Migration Section, Immigration Mini-Conference, Roundtable/Panel, University of California, Berkeley, Invited, 08/2009  
"The Salience of Race and Gender for Middle-Class Latinas. ", Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Boston, Massachusetts, 08/2008  
"Latina Spaces: Middle-Class Ethnic Capital and Professional Associations in the Latino Community", The Nagoya American Studies Summer Seminar, Nagoya, Japan, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, Invited, 07/2008  
"Middle-Class Latinas in Southern California: Trends, Stereotypes and Reality", California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 28th Annual Convention, Latina Power Luncheon , Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, 08/2007  

Other Presentations

"The Great Recession and Wealth Accumulation Among Middle Class Mexican Americans ", Immigration in the Wake of the Great Recession, The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, USC, Spring 2012   



Agius Vallejo, J. (2015). Immigration and Work: Research in the Sociology of Work. (Vol. 26, (Jody Agius Vallejo, Ed.). Emerald Group Publishing.
Agius Vallejo, J. (2012). Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class Stanford University Press.

Encyclopedia Article

Agius Vallejo, J. (2011). "Migration and Intolerance" in The Encyclopedia of Global Migration. Wiley Blackwell.

Journal Article

Agius Vallejo, J., Canizales, S. (2015). "Ethnic Capitalists: How Race, Class, and Gender Shape Entrepreneurial Incorporation among Professional Latino/as.". Ethnic and Racial Studies.
Agius Vallejo, J. (2015). How Class Background Affects Mexican Americans’ Experiences of Subtle Racism in the White Collar Workplace. Latino Studies.
Keister, L., Vallejo, J., Borelli, P. (2015). Mexican American Mobility: An Exploration of Wealth Accumulation Trajectories. Social Forces.
Agius Vallejo, J. (2013). Leveling the Playing Field: Patterns of Ethnic Philanthropy Among Los Angeles’ Middle and Upper-Class Latino Entrepreneurs. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol. Forthcoming
Agius Vallejo, J. (2012). Socially Mobile Mexican Americans and the Minority Culture of Mobility. American Behavioral Scientist. Vol. 56, pp. 666-681.
Emeka, A., Agius Vallejo, J. (2011). Non-Latino Identification among Latino Descendents: Assimilation or Racialization. Social Science Research.
Agius Vallejo, J. (2009). Latina Spaces: Middle-Class Ethnic Capital and Professional Associations in the Latino Community. City & Community. Vol. 8 (2), pp. 129-154.
Agius Vallejo, J., Lee, J. (2009). Brown Picket Fences: The Immigrant Narrative and Patterns of Giving Back among the Mexican Origin Middle-Class in Los Angeles. Ethnicities. Vol. 9 (1), pp. 5-23.
Zhou, M., Lee, J., Agius Vallejo, J., Tafoya-Estrada, R., Xion, Y. (2008). Success Attained, Deterred, and Denied: Divergent Pathways to Social Mobility in Los Angeles’ New Second Generation. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 620 (1), pp. 37-61.
Agius, J., Lee, J. (2006). Raising the Status of the Cashier: Latina-White Relations in an Ethnic Market. Sociological Forum. Vol. 21 (2), pp. 197-218.

Research Report

Agius Vallejo, J. (2009). The Mexican Origin Middle Class in Los Angeles. Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, USC. Link to The Mexican Origin Middle Class in Southern California

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

The Latino Middle Class - Curated for the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, 2013-2014   
Latino Identities and America’s Future." Commentary for the Pew Hispanic Research Center. June 8., Spring 2012   
Op-Ed-Magazine, Citizenship Stripping Will Hurt the Nation’s Economic Future. Profiles in Diversity Journal. February/March Issue , Spring 2011   
ASA Section Newsletter, The Promise of Immigration Reform, World on the Move, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, Spring 2010   
USC Politics and Society: Web, Obama and Immigrants." Politics and Society, USC,, Spring 2010   
Op-ed - Print, Citizenship Path Key to U.S. Economy. Politico, Vol. 4 NO 75., 05/28/2010-05/2010  

Honors and Awards

USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, 2012-2013   
USC Mellon Mentoring Award, 2011-2012   
American Fellowship, American Association of University Women, 7/1/2011-6/1/2012  
Named one of OC Metro Magazine's 20 Women to Watch in 2012, Spring 2012   
USC Parents Association Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award, Honorable Mention, 2009-2010   
Distinguished Student Scholarship Award, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, 2008-2009   
Haynes Foundation Fellowship, 2008-2009   

Service to the University

Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

"A Latino Identity Crises," Esther Cepeda’s Nationally Syndicated Column, January 18, 2012, Spring 2012   
"For Many Latinos, Racial Identity is More Culture Than Color," The New York Times: January 13, 2012,, Spring 2012   
Featured on the cover of OC Metro Magazine's issue of the '20 Women to Watch.' , Spring 2012   
"How Immigrant Families Become Middle Class and What Gets in the Way. August, KPCC's MultiAmerican , Fall 2011   
"Why Children of Immigrants Pitch in Even if it Hurts Their Wallets."August 8, KPCC's MultiAmerican , Fall 2011   
"El 37.6% de la población de California es latino." Vivelo Hoy, March 11, Spring 2011   
Quoted for "Dora the Explorer: A Real Superstar,' August, LA Times, Fall 2010   
Interview, "Hispanics in the U.S.: A New Generation." June, 8, BBC World News, Spring 2010   
"L.A. Needs a Healthy Latino Middle Class," by Hector Tobar. The Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2010. , Spring 2010   
Cover Story: Invest Globally, Advise Locally, Investment Advisor Magazine, February 2010, Spring 2010   
Interview, "Cuando Crezca la Nuevo Generatión." June, 8, BBC Mundo, Spring 2010   
"Middle-Class Latinas and the Gabachos Who Won’t Believe in Them," by Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly, Wednesday, October 7, 2009, Fall 2009   
OC Metro Magazine, Feature Article. "The Culture Ceiling" , Fall 2007   
Orange County Register, "Programming the Latina Network.", Fall 2005   

Service to the Profession

Conferences Organized

Organizing Committee, Immigration Mini-Conference, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, Univeristy of California, Berkeley, 08/2009-08/2010  

Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

The Brand and Martinez Show, 89.3 KPCC (NPR Affiliate), September 10, 2012, Fall 2012   
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