Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, USC
Associate Director, ERI
Dr. Jody Agius Vallejo is Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is also associate director of USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. Dr. Agius Vallejo holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine.
Dr. Agius Vallejo’s research concentrates on: immigrant integration, the Latino middle class, Latino business owners, Latino elites, race and ethnicity, wealth accumulation, and inequality and mobility mechanisms. Dr. Vallejo systematically addresses these issues with a methodological approach that combines the qualitative strengths of traditional sociological inquiry (e.g. in-depth interviews, participant observation, and ethnography) with demographic analysis of representative statistics from the U.S. Census.
Her book, Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class (Stanford University Press, 2012) examines the mechanisms—such as parental legal status, access to higher education, and business ownership—that expedite social mobility and integration into the middle class for Mexican Americans. The book also examines middle-class Mexican Americans’ racial/ethnic and class identities, financial and social obligations to kin, patterns of giving back to kin, and civic engagement.
Dr. Vallejo’s second book, in progress, investigates middle-class Latino entrepreneurs and the Latino economic elite. The research examines the institutions that support the Latino economic elite, their patterns of ethnic philanthropy, and the challenges and successes they experience in business and in corporate America. She is also a Co-Principal Investigator with Lisa Keister on a project examining heterogeneous integration outcomes of today’s new immigrants via the lens of wealth ownership and business ownership. This study, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on Chinese immigrant communities and relies on mixed methods including extensive quantitative analyses of large data sets and interviews with Chinese American business owners in Southern California.
Two other projects-in-progress include: A detailed demographic analysis of the Latino middle class in the U.S. and in Southern California; and a study of the conditions—such as familial economic insecurity that results in early familial obligations among immigrant youth—which lead to differential patterns of educational attainment between Mexican Americans, and Chinese and Vietnamese Americans.
Dr. Agius Vallejo’s research has been funded by The National Science Foundation, The American Association of University Women, The Lusk Center for Real Estate, the American Sociological Association and National Science Foundation Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline, the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation, the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, and the USC Office of the Provost. She has held an American fellowship from the American Association of University Women and also a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Social Forces, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Latino Studies, Social Science Research, City & Community, Sociological Forum, American Behavioral Scientist, and The Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science.
She frequently speaks on issues of immigrant integration, the growing Latino middle and upper classes, the growing segment of Latino entrepreneurs, philanthropy, wealth, and inequality. She has written opinion pieces for The Guardian, Politico, NBC Latino, and The Conversation. Her research has received coverage in print, radio, and television including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NBC Latino, La Opinión, BBC World News, BBC Mundo, Agencia EFE, ABC’s Vista LA, OC Weekly, NPR, KCRW and KPCC.
Dr. Agius Vallejo has won numerous awards. In 2016 she was named one of the top 50 graduate and postdoctoral scholar alumni from the University of California, Irvine. She is also the recipient of the USC Dornsife Junior Raubenheimer Award for Research, Teaching, and Service, and also the USC Mellon Mentoring Award. Dr. Agius Vallejo is also a member of the Los Angeles advisory board of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and a board member of ABC’s Latino Creative Influencers.