Elaine Bell Kaplan

Professor of Sociology
Elaine Bell Kaplan
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email ekaplan@usc.edu Office KAP 360 Office Phone (213) 740-8865

Research & Practice Areas

Race and ethnic relations, social inequality, youth, gender, qualitative methodology, visual sociology, education


  • Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 12/1988
  • M.A. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 1980
  • B.A. Sociology, Buruch College, CUNY, 1977
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Professor, University of Southern California, 06/11/2021 –
    • Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 01/01/1999 – 06/11/2021
    • 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
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    My interest is in researching and analyzing structural conditions that restrict opportunities for racial/ethnic groups, women, children, and youth. My primary concern is with understanding the stories these groups tell about the experiences that impact their lives. In order to tell their stories, I rely on an interpretive approach and a qualitative methodology that includes ethnography and in-depth interviews. I have also created the Visual sociology course. Being visual means learning a craft that allows you to bring your world alive with the use of the camera. This course integrates the analysis and production of visual representation into the disciplined study of social relations. What makes images as valuable as a model of human communications is that they encode an enormous amount of information in a single display or representation. One way of helping students develop a sociological imagination about everyday things that they might otherwise take for granted is to show them how photographs and video clips of these everyday things are rich repositories of information that can be used in theory and analysis. Just imagine what students can discover about their own surroundings.

    I do enjoy mentoring undergraduates and helping them construct their research projects. I have also mentored sociology graduate students and those in other disciplines in developing their masters and dissertation projects.

    Research Keywords

    Youth, gender, race and ethnic relations, education, social Inequality, qualitative methods, visual Sociology

    Detailed Statement of Research Interests

    I am currently following up on my earlier research on the experiences of black and Latinx Millennials/Gen Zs. This study’s primary goal is to examine how these two groups perceive the past, present, and future their communities.

  • Conference Presentations

    • Black Millennials/Gen Zs Changing Sociology , Black Sociological AssociationTalk/Oral Presentation, Invited, Washington, D.C, 2019-2020
    • The Millennial/Gen Zs Leftists are Emergining: Are Sociologists Ready for Them? , The Pacific Sociological AssociationTalk/Oral Presentation, PSA, Invited, Oakland, CA, 2019-2020
    • In Pursuit of the American Dream: A Study of First Generation College Students , The Pacific Sociological AssociationTalk/Oral Presentation, San Francisco, 2018-2019
    • Issues of Race and Racism , Pacific Sociology AssociationRoundtable/Panel, Pacific Sociology Association, San Francisco, 08/18/2014
    • We Live in the Shadow , The Sociology of Social Problems ConferenceKeynote Lecture, Sociology of Social Problems Conference, Invited, San Francisco, 08/15/2014
    • We Live in the Shadow , Magnolia Family CenterTalk/Oral Presentation, Family Center , Invited, Magnolia Place Los Angeles, 2013-2014
    • Black Single Inner-City Mothers Raising Young Teens. , American Sociological AssociationTalk/Oral Presentation, Race. Gender, Class Section ASA, Invited, New York city, New York, 2012-2013
    • Didactic Seminar , American Sociological AssociationTeaching Workshop, A,merican Sociological Assoication, Invited, Boston, Mass., 2007-2008
    • Workshop on Using Visual Ethnography , Pacific Sociological Associationleading Workshop, Invited, Phila. PA, 2007-2008
    • Seeing Thought the Eyes of Inner-City Teens: , The American Sociological AssociationTalk/Oral Presentation, ASA, New York City, 2006-2007
    • In Pursuit of the American Dream: A Study of First Generation College Students , The Pacific Sociological Annual MeetingTalk/Oral Presentation, PSA, San Francisco, CA., 2004-2005

    Other Presentations

    • Inner-City Teens Changing their Lives, Lecture Series, Oakland, CA., 2011-2012
    • the Challenges and Passion of Doing Research on the Inner-City, Distinguished Speaker Series, USC, 2010-2011
    • Black Women’s Socio-Economic Concerns, Guest Lectcurer, USC, 2009-2010
    • 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.
    • 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
  • Book

    • 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. (2020). The Millennial/GenZ Leftists are Emerging: Are Sociologists Ready for Them?. Sociological Perspectives/Sage.
    • 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.
    • Kaplan, E. B., Cole, L. (2003). Adolescence. Adolescence. Vol. 4, pp. 141-160.
    • Kaplan, E. B. (2000). Using Food as a Metaphor for Care: Middle-School Kids Talk about Family, School and Class Relationships. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Vol. 4, pp. 479-509.
    • Visual Sociology of the Urban City and its Residents, Sociology 365, Spring 2011
    • 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
    • Presentation, Featured story of presentation, “Children of the Shadow and Light” on Dornsife, USC news stories website,
    • Blog, Blog, “Profiling Black and Latino kids as Ghetto Thugs Criminals.” on Templepress.wordpress.com,
    • Presentation, Children of the Shadow and Light, presented Magnolia Center,
    • Television Interview on C-Span, Interview on book, We Live in the Shadow, April, 20, 2015.,
    • Los Angeles Times’ Televison Interview, Discussion of We Live In the Shadow. , 2015-2016
    • Developed Multi-Media course, • All forms of media communicate images of the
      sexes, many of which perpetuate unrealistic, stereotypical-
      cal and limiting perceptions. Women are underrepresented. Men and women are portrayed in stereotypical
      ways. These depictions of relationships between men
      and women emphasize traditional roles and normalize
      violence against women
      , 2017-2018
    • President, Pacific Sociological Association, 2019-2020
    • Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the Race, Gender, and Class Section of the American Sociological Association, 2000
  • 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