Ethnic and Racial Inequality, Immigration, Introduction to Research Methods, Qualitative Research Methods.
Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
Wendy D. Roth is a Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. She joined the department in 2006 after receiving her Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University.
Roth is a sociologist of race, ethnicity, and immigration, with substantive interests in Latin America, transnational processes, multiracial populations and identities, and intersections of race and genomics. Her research focuses on how social processes challenge racial and ethnic boundaries and transform classification systems. She has received several awards for her research, including a UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellowship, the 2016 Early Investigator Award from the Canadian Sociological Association, the 2011 Oliver Cromwell Cox Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, and the 2007 American Sociological Association Outstanding Dissertation Award.
Her first book, Race Migrations: Latinos and the Cultural Transformation of Race (Stanford University Press 2012) examines how immigration changes cultural concepts of race, not only for the migrants themselves, but also for their host society, and for the societies they left behind. The book examines race from a cultural perspective, and shows how concepts of race flow between societies to influence local conceptions and stratification systems. The book received the Isis Duarte Prize from the Haiti-Dominican Republic Section of the Latin American Studies Association and an Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award Honourable Mention from the Society for the Study of Social Problems Division on Racial and Ethnic Minorities.
Roth’s journal publications analyze the multiple dimensions of race (Ethnic and Racial Studies 2016); how immigrants’ racial attitudes are formed transnationally (International Migration Review 2013); depictions of Blackness in the Dominican Republic (Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 2013); whether different types of immigrants have more successful long-term economic trajectories in ethnic workplaces or in the mainstream economy (International Migration Review 2012); how analyses of Latinos tend to miss discrimination based on racial appearance by relying on data that captures racial self-identification, a different aspect of race that often does not correspond (Social Science Quarterly 2010); how concepts of panethnicity are diffused transnationally (Ethnic and Racial Studies 2009); and how interracial families classify the race of their multiracial children (Sociological Forum 2005).
Roth is a co-author of Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings (Basic Books 2004). This is the first study to examine the phenomenon of rampage school shootings from a sociological perspective. The book was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Roth’s article stemming from this project on combining positivist and interpretivist approaches in qualitative research (Sociological Methods and Research 2002) has been discussed in several Research Methods textbooks and adopted in research methods courses across the United States, Canada, Israel, and Switzerland.
Dr. Roth’s current research examines the social impact of genetic ancestry testing on conceptions of race and ethnicity, racial attitudes, and interactions. This work is funded by grants from the Social Science Research and Humanities Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation Leadership Opportunities Fund. She also co-organized the conference Measuring the Diverging Components of Race in Multiracial America, which has been supported by a grant from the American Sociological Association Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline.
Race and Ethnicity, Immigration, Genomics and Race, Racial Classification & Measurement, Skin Colour Inequalities, Multiracial Populations & Identities, Latin America & Latino/a Studies, Prejudice & Discrimination, Social Stratification & Inequality, Research Methods
The interest that motivates much of my current research is how social processes like immigration, intermarriage, or interpretations of new technologies challenge racial boundaries and transform classification systems. My focus in this area is usually tied to its implications for stratification and race relations. I am interested in how concepts of race and ethnicity change and how those changes shape actual social interactions and relations between ethnic and racial groups.
Some of my current and ongoing projects include:
- Research on the effect of genetic ancestry testing on test-takers' identities, attitudes, and understanding of race and ethnicity. This project has several components. The first involves longitudinal qualitative interviews with 115 people who purchased genetic ancestry tests and who identified before taking the tests (fully or partly) as White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. The second phase is a randomized controlled trial that randomly assigns individuals to receive genetic ancestry tests or not, with surveys before and after testing. A third phase, currently in progress, involves qualitative follow-up interviews with participants in the randomized controlled trial. This project is sponsored by two major grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and an infrastructure grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
- A paper on how skin colour shapes Latinos' social networks and integration pathways in the United States. This paper examines whether migrants to the U.S. develop greater colour homophily in their primary social networks than non-migrants in the sending societies. It assesses whether the experience of living in the U.S. divides these phenotypically diverse migrants by their skin colour or unifies them around their shared ethnicity.
- Research on the multiple dimensions of race. In the last few decades, research on how racial categories are experienced has become much more sophisticated, as researchers acknowledge the importance of self-identification for the creation of identity, meaning and community, identification by others for the effects of discrimination and differences in treatment, and the importance of both individual- and group-level shifts in the construction of these categories. Immigration, interracial families, and changing ideas about racial categorization have all combined to create an evolving landscape for the lived experiences of “race.” These issues were the focus of a recent paper, a special issue of American Behavioral Scientist titled "Measuring the Diverging Components of Race in Multiracial America" (co-edited with Jenifer Bratter, Rice University and Mary E. Campbell, Texas A & M University), and a 2014 workshop of the same name. The workshop was partially funded by an ASA Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline award.
I have also created the Study of International Student Integration at UBC. This project was created in 2006 as a pedagogical exercise to give students in my qualitative research methods classes (SOCI 382 and SOCI 503) hands-on experience conducting in-depth interviews. As the number of international students at UBC and in Canada has dramatically increased, it is important to consider whether they are receiving the support they need and what their integration experiences have been like. Furthermore, as new immigration rules help international students obtain temporary work permits after graduation, and those doing so may then follow a facilitated route to permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class visa, it is important to consider what role immigration to Canada plays in students' decisions to attend university at UBC.
Students in my sections of SOCI 382 and 503 conduct interviews with international and/or domestic students. As they gain valuable experience in qualitative methods, they also contribute to a data resource for anyone interested in researching this topic. There are currently 474 qualitative interview transcripts (292 international, 182 domestic) in this data resource, conducted between 2006-2017. To date, students have used this resource for:
- A peer-reviewed journal article by UBC graduate students and faculty on the experiences of students who fall between the cracks of the administrative definition of international and domestic students, and who therefore often fail to take up needed resources as a result.
- A Master's thesis in Teaching English as a Second Language on how international students mobilize their linguistic resources. This thesis won the Best MA Thesis Award in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, UBC Faculty of Education.
- A Master's degree practicum project on Asian students' motivations for studying in Canada by a student in the UBC Institute of Asian Research.
- A sociology undergraduate honours' thesis comparing the experiences of US, other international, and domestic students at UBC.
- An undergraduate independent study comparing non-Caucasian international and domestic students' reactions to racism.
- Supplementary data for dissertation research on "Third Culture Kids," who have spent a significant portion of their developmental years in more than one society before immigrating again as adults.
- A peer-reviewed journal article on international students’ post-graduation migration plans by a UBC Sociology graduate student and faculty member.
- A journal article (in progress) on international students’ perceptions of discrimination, the composition of their friendship networks, and their participation in groups on campus by a UBC Sociology Ph.D. student.
- A journal article (in progress) on the adaptation challenges and information sources of international graduate students in Canada, by a Ph.D. student at UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies.
- An undergraduate sociology honours’ thesis on the integration experiences of third culture kids relative to other international students at UBC.
- A journal article (under review) on the social integration of international undergraduate students into campus organizations and the distinctive formal and informal campus cultures experienced by international and domestic students, by UBC Sociology Ph.D. students.
- A Master's thesis on Latin American students' integration at UBC by a visiting student from Latin American Studies at the Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Anyone who is interested in using this resource for research should contact me.
Roth, Wendy D. 2012. Race Migrations: Latinos and the Cultural Transformation of Race. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
About Race Migrations (2012):
In this groundbreaking study of Puerto Rican and Dominican migration to the United States, Wendy D. Roth explores the influence of migration on changing cultural conceptions of race—for the newcomers, for their host society, and for those who remain in the countries left behind. Just as migrants can gain new language proficiencies, they can pick up new understandings of race. But adopting an American idea about race does not mean abandoning earlier ideas. New racial schemas transfer across borders and cultures spread between sending and host countries.
Behind many current debates on immigration is the question of how Latinos will integrate and where they fit into the U.S. racial structure. Race Migrations shows that these migrants increasingly see themselves as a Latino racial group. Although U.S. race relations are becoming more "Latin Americanized" by the presence of Latinos and their views about race, race in the home countries is also becoming more "Americanized" through the cultural influence of those who go abroad. Ultimately, Roth shows that several systems of racial classification and stratification co-exist in each place, in the minds of individuals and in their shared cultural understandings of "how race works."
- Winner of the Isis Duarte Prize from the Haiti-Dominican Republic Section of the Latin American Studies Association, 2015
- Honorable Mention for the Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems Division on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, 2014
Newman, Katherine S., Cybelle Fox, David Harding, Jal Mehta, and Wendy Roth. 2004. Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. New York: Basic Books.
About Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings (2004):
School shootings have decimated communities and terrified parents, teachers, and children in even the most “family friendly” American towns and suburbs. These tragedies appear to be the spontaneous acts of troubled, disconnected teens, but this important book argues that the roots of violence are deeply entwined in the communities themselves. Rampage challenges the “loner theory” of school violence, and shows why so many adults and students miss the warning signs that could prevent it. Drawing on more than 200 interviews with town residents, the authors take the reader inside two of the most notorious school shootings of the 1990s, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Paducah, Kentucky. In a powerful and original analysis, they demonstrate that the organizational structure of schools “loses” information about troubled kids, and the very closeness of these small rural towns restrained neighbors and friends from communicating what they knew about their problems. Their conclusions shed light on the ties that bind in small-town America.
- Finalist for C. Wright Mills Book Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems, 2004
Roth, Wendy D., Mary E., Campbell, and Jenifer Bratter, editors. 2016. Special issue of American Behavioral Scientist, “Measuring the Diverging Components of Race in Multiracial America.” 60(4).
Articles and Book Chapters
Roth, Wendy D. and Biorn Ivemark. 2018. “Genetic Options: The Impact of Genetic Ancestry Testing on Ethnic and Racial Identities.” American Journal of Sociology 124(1): 150-184.
Roth, Wendy D. 2018. “Establishing the Denominator: The Challenges of Measuring Multiracial, Hispanic, and Native American Populations.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 677(1): 48-56.
Roth, Wendy D. 2018. “Unsettled Identities Amid Settled Classifications? Toward a Sociology of Racial Appraisals.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(6): 1093-1112.
- To be reprinted in Why Do We Still Talk About Race? 2019. Edited by Martin Bulmer and John Solomos. New York: Routledge.
- Post-print available here
Roth, Wendy D. and Katherine Lyon. 2018. “Genetic Ancestry Tests and Race: Who Takes Them, Why, and How Do They Affect Racial Identities?” Pp. 133-169 in Reconsidering Race: Social Science Perspectives on Racial Categories in the Age of Genomics, edited by Kazuko Suzuki and Diego von Vacano. New York: Oxford University Press.
Roth, Wendy D. 2017. “Methodological pitfalls of measuring race: International comparisons and repurposing of statistical categories.” Ethnic and Racial Studies Review 40(13): 2347-2353.
Cross, William E., Jr., Eleanor Seaton, Tiffany Yip, Richard M. Lee, Deborah Rivas, Gilbert C. Gee, Wendy Roth and Bic Ngo. 2017. “Identity Work: Enactment of Racial-Ethnic Identity in Everyday Life.” Identity 17(1): 1-12. [Lead Article]
Roth, Wendy D. 2016. “The Multiple Dimensions of Race.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 39(8): 1310-1338.
- Honorable Mention for Oliver Cromwell Cox Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, 2017
- Post-print available here
Mary E. Campbell, Jenifer Bratter, and Wendy D. Roth. 2016. “Measuring the Diverging Components of Race: An Introduction.” American Behavioral Scientist. 60(4): 381-389.
Roth, Wendy D. 2015. “Studying Ethnic Schemas: Integrating Cognitive Schemas into Ethnicity Research through Photo Elicitation.” Pp. 111-151 in Studying Ethnic Identity: Methodological Advances and Consideration for Future Research, edited by Carlos E. Santos and Adriana Umaña-Taylor. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Roth, Wendy. 2014. “Latinos, Biculturalism, and the In-Between.” Pp.49-64 in Color Lines and Racial Angles, edited by Douglas Hartmann and Christopher Uggen. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Roth, Wendy D. and Nadia Y. Kim. 2013. “Relocating Prejudice: A Transnational Approach to Understanding Immigrants’ Racial Attitudes.” International Migration Review 47(2):330-373.
Roth, Wendy D. 2013. “A Single Shade of Negro: Henry Louis Gates’s Depictions of Blackness in the Dominican Republic.” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 8(1): 95-99
Golbeck, Natasha and Wendy D. Roth. 2012. "Aboriginal Claims: DNA Ancestry Testing and Changing Concepts of Indigeneity." Pp. 415-432 in Biomapping Indigenous Peoples: Toward an Understanding of the Issues, edited by Susanne Berthier-Foglar, Sheila Collingwood-Whittick, and Sandrine Tolazzi. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Roth, Wendy D., Marc-David Seidel, Dennis Ma and Eiston Lo. 2012. "In and Out of the Ethnic Economy: A Longitudinal Analysis of Ethnic Networks and Pathways to Economic Success across Immigrant Categories."International Migration Review 42(2): 310-360.
Kenyon, Kristi, Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, and Wendy D. Roth. 2012. “Falling between the Cracks: Ambiguities of International Student Status in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Higher Education 42(1): 1-24.
Roth, Wendy D. and Gerhard Sonnert. 2011. "The Costs and Benefits of 'Red Tape': Anti-Bureaucratic Structure and Gender Inequity in a Science Research Organization." Social Studies of Science 41(3):385-409.
Roth, Wendy D. 2010. “Racial Mismatch: The Divergence Between Form and Function in Data for Monitoring Racial Discrimination of Hispanics.” Social Science Quarterly 91(5): 1288-1311.
- Winner of the Oliver Cromwell Cox Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, 2011
Roth, Wendy D. 2009. "'Latino Before the World:' The Transnational Extension of Panethnicity." Ethnic and Racial Studies 32(6): 927-947.
- Reprinted in Latino Identity in Contemporary America. 2011. Edited by Martin Bulmer and John Solomos. New York: Routledge.
- Post-print available here
Roth, Wendy D. 2009. "Transnational Racializations: The Extension of Racial Boundaries from Receiving to Sending Societies." Pp. 228-244 in How the United States Racializes Latinos: At Home and Abroad, edited by Jose A. Cobas, Jorge Duany, and Joe Feagin. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
Roth, Wendy D. 2008. "'There Is No Discrimination Here': Understanding Latinos' Perceptions of Color Discrimination through Sending-Receiving Society Comparison." Pp. 205-234 in Racism in the 21st Century: A Question of Color, edited by Ronald E. Hall. New York: Springer Press.
Roth, Wendy D. 2005. "The End of the One-Drop Rule? Labeling of Multiracial Children in Black Intermarriages." Sociological Forum, 20(1):35-67.
Roth, Wendy D. and Jal D. Mehta. 2002. "The Rashomon Effect: Combining Positivist and Interpretive Approaches in the Analysis of Contested Events" Sociological Methods & Research 31(2):131-173.
- Reprinted in Philosophical Foundations of Social Research Methods. 2005. Edited by Malcolm Williams. Benchmarks in Social Research Methods series. London: Sage Publications.
- Post-print available here