Jody Agius Vallejo

Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity
Jody Agius Vallejo
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email Office KAP 364C Office Phone (213) 740-5047

Research & Practice Areas

immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, minoritized middle classes, minoritized entrepreneurs, wealth attainment

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • USC Center for Latinx and Latin American Studies, Advisory Board
  • USC Equity Research Institute, Associate Director


Jody Agius Vallejo is Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity. She is also Associate Director of USC Equity Research Institute and Chair of the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association. She also co-edits (with Blanca Ramirez), the USC Equity Research Institute Blog

Her research areas include immigration, immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, and inequality, poverty, and mobility. 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, their connections to family and community, financial and social obligations to kin, and civic engagement. 

Agius Vallejo’s next book, in progress, investigates middle-class Latino entrepreneurs and the Latino economic elite. The research examines the institutions that support the Latino economic elite and argues that the Latino elite have developed an alternative, ethnic-based economic system of ethnoracial capitalism to facilitate a pathway of marked economic integration and mobility. 

With Lisa Keister, she has also published on wealth attainment. In 2020 they co-edited a special issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies on Immigrants and Wealth Attainment. 

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.

In 2023, she received the Award for Public Sociology in International Migration from the ASA Section on International Migration. Also in 2023, she, along with Stephanie Canizales, received the 2023 Oliver Cromwell Cox Article Award from the ASA Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities for their paper, “Ethnoracial Capitalism and the Limits of Ethnic Solidarity,” published in Social Problems. She has received two USC Provost Mentoring Awards for mentoring graduate (2022) and undergraduate students (2010), as well as the USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Junior Faculty Award for Research, Teaching, and Service (2012). 



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

    immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, middle-class minoritized communities, minoritized entrepreneurs, wealth accumulation

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Latino Elites in Los Angeles, (John and Dora Haynes Foundation), Jody Agius Vallejo $12,500, 2018-2019
    • 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 $315,000, 2013-2014
    • How do Latino-Owned Banks and Elite Latino Entrepreneurs Facilitate Economic Development in Los Ange, (Lusk 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, 2010-2013
    • 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 $25,000, 2010-2011
  • Conference Presentations

    • Precarity Ripples: Legal Status, Economic Mobility, and Well-being Within and Across Generations , Pennsylvania State University’s 31st National Symposium on Family Issues: Immigration Policy and ImmLecture/Seminar, Invited, Pennsylvania State University , Fall 2023
    • Equity and Prosperity in the Golden State Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, Hispanas Organizing for Political Equity (HOPE) Los Angeles, Spring 2023
    • The Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, University of California, Irvine , Fall 2022
    • Latino Elites and Ethnoracial Mainstreaming. Lecture/Seminar, Invited, University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2022
    • Latino Upward Mobility Talk/Oral Presentation, Invited, Temple University, Spring 2022
    • Middle-and Upper-Class Latino Entrepreneurs Lecture/Seminar, Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship , Invited, Brown University , Spring 2021
    • Global Migration Impact and Opportunity , Eisenhower Fellowships ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, Invited, London, England, Fall 2019
    • “Immigration, Social Mobility, and The New Demographics.” , Young Leaders Conferences, The Council for the United States and Italy, Trieste, ItalyKeynote Lecture, Invited, Trieste, Italy, Fall 2012
    • Leveling the Playing Field: Patterns of Ethnic Philanthropy Among Middle-and-Upper-Class Latino Entrepreneurs , Immigration and Entrepreneurship Conference Talk/Oral Presentation, Center for the History of a New America, Invited, University of Maryland, Fall 2012
    • Panelist: Where Do I Go From Here? Using Your MA and PhD in Sociology , Annual Meeting of the Pacific Sociological AssociationRoundtable/Panel, Invited, Oakland, California, Spring 2010
    • Panelist: Navigating the Academic Job Market , American Sociological Association International Migration Section, Immigration Mini-ConferenceRoundtable/Panel, Invited, University of California, Berkeley, 08/2009
    • The Salience of Race and Gender for Middle-Class Latinas. , Annual Meeting of the American Sociological AssociationTalk/Oral Presentation, Boston, Massachusetts, 08/2008
    • Latina Spaces: Middle-Class Ethnic Capital and Professional Associations in the Latino Community , The Nagoya American Studies Summer Seminar, Nagoya, JapanTalk/Oral Presentation, Invited, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, 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

    • Past, Present, and Future: Immigration in Los Angeles., Testimony for Public Hearing, California Senate Select Committee on the Social Determinants of Children’s Well-Being, , 2019-2020
    • The Latino Elite, UC Irvine DASA, , 2019-2020
    • Aren’t We American? Race, Class, Immigration and Citizenship, LA Times Festival of Books, USC, 2018-2019
    • Elite Latino Entrepreneurs and Ethnic Solidarity, Stanford University Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, , 2016-2017
    • Ethnic Philanthropy as a Social Safety Net Mechanism, University of California, Davis, , 2016-2017
    • The Great Recession and Wealth Accumulation Among Middle Class Mexican Americans , Immigration in the Wake of the Great Recession, USC, 2011-2012
  • Book

    • 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.

    Book Chapters

    • Agius Vallejo, J. (2020). The Economic Contributions of Latino Entrepreneurs. Advancing Latino Entrepreneurship pp. Edited by Marlene Orozco, Alfonso Morales, Michael. Purdue University Press.

    Encyclopedia Article

    • Agius Vallejo, J. (2017). The Latino Middle Class. Oxford Bibliographies.
    • Agius Vallejo, J. (2011). “Migration and Intolerance” in The Encyclopedia of Global Migration. Wiley Blackwell.

    Journal Article

    • Agius Vallejo, J., Ramirez, B. (2023). A Distinct Mobility and Integration Path? Latino Economic Elites in Los Angeles Growing the Latino Middle Class. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education..
    • Agius Vallejo, J., Canizales, S. (2021). Ethnoracial Capitalism and the Limits of Ethnic Solidarity. Social Problems.
    • Canizales, S., Vallejo, J. (2021). Latinos and Racism in the Trump Era. Daedalus. Vol. 150 (2) Link to Article
    • Keister, L. (2019). Investing in the Homeland: Cross-Border Investments and Immigrant Wealth in the U.S. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
    • Agius Vallejo, J., Keister, L. (2019). Immigrants and Wealth Attainment: Migration, Inequality, and Integration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
    • Agius Vallejo, J., Canizales, S. (2016). Latino/a Professionals as Entrepreneurs: How Race, Class, and Gender Shape Entrepreneurial Incorporation. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol. 39 (9), pp. 1637-1656. Link to article
    • Agius Vallejo, J. (2016). The Mexican-American Middle Class: How Heterogeneity in Class Background Affects Integration. Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy. Vol. 2 (1), pp. 59-69.
    • Keister, L., Agius Vallejo, J., Aronson, B. (2016). Chinese Immigrant Net Worth: Heterogeneity in Adaptation. PLOS ONE. Vol. 11 (12) Link to article
    • 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: Early Life Processes and Adult Wealth Ownership. Social Forces.
    • Agius Vallejo, J. (2015). Silva Letters and the Mexican American Middle Class. Contexts.
    • 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

    • USC Politics and Society: Web, Obama and Immigrants.” Politics and Society, USC,,
    • ASA Section Newsletter, The Promise of Immigration Reform, World on the Move, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association,
    • Op-ed – Print, Citizenship Path Key to U.S. Economy. Politico, Vol. 4 NO 75., 05/28/2010-05/01/2010
    • Op-Ed-Magazine, Citizenship Stripping Will Hurt the Nation’s Economic Future. Profiles in Diversity Journal. February/March Issue ,
    • Latino Identities and America’s Future.” Commentary for the Pew Hispanic Research Center. June 8.,
    • The Latino Middle Class – Curated for the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, 2013-2014
    • “How Watts Provided a Foundation for a Family’s Rise in America.” July 8. Zocalo Public Square. ,
    • “Latino Political Pulse: How Hispanics Have Changed California Politics.” June 7. ,
    • “The effect racist rhetoric has on young Latinos, and why all Americans should care.” The Conversation. April 26. ,
    • 2018. “The New Executive Order is No Solution.” Blanca Ramirez, Jody Agius Vallejo, and Eliane Fersan. CSII Immigrant Integration Wire. ,
    • 2017. “Latino Elites are Paying the California Dream Forward.” The Conversation November 6,
    • “Three Reasons to Protect DACA.” Karina Santellano and Jody Agius Vallejo. CSII Immigrant Integration Wire. ,
    • 2020. Universities Should Take Up the Fight for Immigration Reform. LA Daily News, June 26, With Manuel Pastor.,
    • USC Provost’s Mentoring Award for Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students , 2022-2023
    • Dornsife Faculty Council Award for Distinguished Service, 2021-2022
    • USC Community Achievement Award, awarded by the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, the International Student Assembly, the Queer and Ally Student Assembly, 2018-2019
    • One of top 50 graduate and postdoctoral scholar alumni, University of California, Irvine, 2016-2017
    • USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, , 2012-2013
    • USC Mellon Mentoring Award, 2011-2012
    • American Fellowship, American Association of University Women, 2011/07/01-2012/06/01
    • 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
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Associate Director, 08/16/2019-08/15/2022
    • Co-Director of Graduate Studies, Sociology, 2020-2021
    • Co-Director of Graduate Studies, Sociology, 2019-2020
    • Associate Director, 08/16/2016-08/15/2019


    • Advanced PhD Fellowship Task Force, 2020-2021
    • Visions and Voices Faculty Committee, 2020-2021
    • Search Committee, Turpanjian Chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies, Spring Spri
    • Visions and Voices Faculty Committee, 2019-2020
    • Search Committee, Latin American and Latinx Studies, 2019-2020
    • Search Committee, Turpanjian Chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies, 2019-2020
    • Provost’s Advisory Task Force on Immigration Issues, 2018-2019
    • Search Committee, Turpanjian Postdoctoral Fellowship,
    • Provost’s Advisory Task Force on Immigration Issues, 2017-2018
    • Visions and Voices Faculty Committee, 2017-2018
    • Search Committee, Turpanjian Chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies, 2017-2018
    • Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Grant Reviewer,
    • Dornsife College GE Committee, 2016-2017

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • Despite a Growing Latino Middle Class, Many California Families Face Hurdles Getting there.”,
    • “A Growing Latino Middle Class: One California Family’s Journey From Have-Not to Have.”, July,
    • “American Let’s Too Much Young Talent Go to Waste.” Bloomberg, February 6. ,
    • “The Lemongrass Burrito is the New America.” CNN, March 6.,
    • “This Group is Getting Ahead in America.” CNN Business, January 22, 2018.,
    • 2016. “What Happened in the Election?” OC Speakly, OC Weekly Podcast,
    • 2013. How a Parent’s Immigration Status Shapes the Economic Lives Their Children, 89.3 KPCC (NPR Affiliate), (May), Fall Fall
    • Marketplace. NPR. Undocumented Immigrants and Credit (March), Fall Fall
    • “For Many Latinos, Racial Identity is More Culture Than Color,” The New York Times: January 13, 2012,,
    • “A Latino Identity Crises,” Esther Cepeda’s Nationally Syndicated Column, January 18, 2012,
    • Featured on the cover of OC Metro Magazine’s issue of the ’20 Women to Watch.’ ,
    • “Why Children of Immigrants Pitch in Even if it Hurts Their Wallets.”August 8, KPCC’s MultiAmerican , Spring Fall
    • “How Immigrant Families Become Middle Class and What Gets in the Way. August, KPCC’s MultiAmerican , Spring Fall
    • “El 37.6% de la población de California es latino.” Vivelo Hoy, March 11, Spring Spri
    • Quoted for “Dora the Explorer: A Real Superstar,’ August, LA Times,
    • “L.A. Needs a Healthy Latino Middle Class,” by Hector Tobar. The Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2010. ,
    • Cover Story: Invest Globally, Advise Locally, Investment Advisor Magazine, February 2010,
    • Interview, “Cuando Crezca la Nuevo Generatión.” June, 8, BBC Mundo,
    • Interview, “Hispanics in the U.S.: A New Generation.” June, 8, BBC World News,
    • “Middle-Class Latinas and the Gabachos Who Won’t Believe in Them,” by Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly, Wednesday, October 7, 2009,
    • OC Metro Magazine, Feature Article. “The Culture Ceiling” ,
    • Orange County Register, “Programming the Latina Network.”,
  • Conferences Organized

    • Organizer, International Migration Section Roundtables , American Sociological Association, , Fall 2016
    • Organizing Committee, Immigration Mini-Conference, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, Univeristy of California, Berkeley, 08/2009 – 08/2010

    Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Editoral Board, Social Forces”, 2017 – 2020
    • Editorial Board, American Sociological Review”, 2016 – 2019
    • Editorial Board, Contexts”, 2015 – 2017

    Professional Offices

    • Chair-Elect, International Migration Section, American Sociological Association “, 2023-2024
    • Co-Chair, Local Organizing Committee, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, American Sociological Association “, 2021-2022
    • Co-Chair, Local Organizing Committee, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, American Sociological Association “, 2021-2022
    • Advisory Committee, Donors of Color Project, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Indiana University”, 2020-2021
    • Council Member (elected), ASA Section on International Migration”, 2015-2019

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

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