James R. Elliott

James (Jim) Elliott earned his Ph.D. in Sociology (with a minor in Geography) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. Thereafter Dr. Elliott was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Rice he earned tenure at the University of Oregon and Tulane University, where he received presidential awards for his undergraduate, graduate and service-learning teaching.

Dr. Elliott’s research focuses on the social production of inequalities and environmental hazards. Early work examined how globalization contributes to structural underemployment; how neighborhood segregation shapes job networks and opportunities; how ethnic divisions of labor form and persist over time; and, how race and gender intersect to open and close access to workplace power in diverse urban labor markets. More recent research focuses on social inequities revealed and exacerbated by natural hazards and government-led recoveries as well as the historical accumulation and systemic spread of industrial hazards. He is a Faculty Affiliate of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, past editor of Sociological Perspectives, and former advisor to the National Science Foundation’s program in Sociology.


Sites Unseen: Uncovering Hidden Hazards in American Cities by Scott Frickel and James R. Elliott (2018) New York: Russell Sage Foundation.


Elliott, James R., Phylicia Lee Brown, and Kevin Loughran. 2020. “Racial Inequities in Federal Buyouts of Flood-Prone Homes: A Nationwide Assessment of Environmental Adaptation.” Socius 6: 1-15.

Howell, Junia and James R. Elliott. 2019. “Damages Done: The Longitudinal Impacts of Natural Hazards on Wealth Inequality in the United States.” Social Problems 66(3): 448-467.

Elliott, James R. and Junia Howell. 2017. “Beyond Disasters: A Longitudinal Analysis of Natural Hazards’ Unequal Impacts on Residential Instability.” Social Forces 95(3): 1181-1207.

Elliott, James R. and Matthew Thomas Clement. 2017. “Natural Hazards and Local Development: The Successive Nature of Landscape Transformation in the United States.” Social Forces 96(1): 851-876.

Elliott, James R. and Scott Frickel. 2015. “Urbanization as Socio-Environmental Succession: The Case of Hazardous Industrial Site Accumulation.” American Journal of Sociology 120(6): 1736-1777.

  • Honorable Mention for the 2016 Jane Addams Award for Best Article from the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Elliott, James R. and Scott Frickel. 2013. “The Historical Nature of Cities: A Study of Urbanization and Hazardous Waste Accumulation.” American Sociological Review 78(4): 521-543. (Lead article.)

Pais, Jeremy and James R. Elliott. 2008. “Places as Recovery Machines: Vulnerability and Neighborhood Change after Major Hurricanes.” Social Forces 86(4): 1415-1453.

Elliott, James R. and Jeremy Pais. 2006. “Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina: Social Differences in Human Responses to Disaster.” Social Science Research 35(2): 295-321.

  • Most cited and downloaded article in the journal’s history, ca. 1972. In top 20 of all social science articles downloaded from ScienceDirect since 2005.
  • Excerpted and reprinted in The Urban Sociology Reader, 2nd Edition, edited by Jan Lin and Christopher Mele (2013): pp. 234-242. New York: Routledge.

Elliott, James R. and Ryan A. Smith. 2004. “Race, Gender and Workplace Power.” American Sociological Review 69(3): 365-386.

Smith, Ryan and James R. Elliott. 2002. “Does Ethnic Concentration Influence Access to Authority? An Examination of Contemporary Urban Labor Markets.” Social Forces 81(1): 255-279.

Elliott, James R. and Mario Sims. 2001. “Ghettos and Barrios: The Impact of Neighborhood Ethnicity and Poverty on Job Matching among Blacks and Latinos.” Social Problems 48(3): 341-361.

Elliott, James R. and Ryan Smith. 2001. “Ethnic Matching of Supervisors to Subordinate Work Groups: Findings on Bottom-Up Ascription and Social Closure.” Social Problems 48(2): 258-276.

Research Areas

Social inequality, urban and community sociology, and the environment