Stephen L. Klineberg

WEBSITE(S)| The Kinder Institute for Urban Research

A graduate of Haverford College in 1961, Stephen Klineberg received an M.A. in Psychopathology from the University of Paris and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard. After teaching at Princeton, he joined Rice University’s Sociology Department in 1972. The recipient of twelve major teaching awards, including the George R. Brown Lifetime Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Piper Professor Award, he was a faculty associate and divisional advisor at Lovett College, where he twice served as Interim Master. And he was the founding director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

In March 1982, he and his students initiated the annual “Kinder Houston Area Survey,” now in its 42nd year of tracking the remarkable changes in the demographic patterns, economic outlooks, life experiences, attitudes, and beliefs among successive representative samples of Harris County residents. The annual surveys are now a permanent part of the Kinder Institute’s ongoing research.

No other metropolitan region in the country has been the focus of a long-term longitudinal research program of this scope. Houston gradually recovered from the oil-boom collapse in the early 1980s to find itself squarely in the midst of a restructured, high-tech, global economy and an accelerating demographic revolution. No city more clearly exemplifies the transformations that are fundamentally refashioning the social and political landscape across America.

The research has attracted great interest and generous support from foundations, corporations, and individuals in the wider Houston community and beyond. That support made it possible not only to fund the annual surveys, but also to expand their scope over the years with additional “oversample” interviews in Houston’s Anglo, African-American, and Latino communities, to undertake more focused surveys exploring issues of health, education, and the arts, and to expand beyond Harris County to interview representative samples in Fort Bend and Montgomery counties as well. In 1995, 2002, and 2011, the surveys reached more than 500 respondents each year from Houston’s Asian communities, with one-fourth of the interviews conducted in Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, or Korean.

Co-author in 1974 of "The Present of Things Future: Explorations of Time in Human Experience," Klineberg has written numerous articles and research reports exploring the dynamics of social change. A much sought-after speaker, he appears frequently on radio and television, in print, and the social media. His most recent book, exploring the national implications of the Houston research, entitled "Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America," was published in June 2020 by Simon & Schuster.

He and his late wife, Peggy, have two children and five grandchildren, four of whom have graduated from Rice. After retiring from the university in early 2023, Klineberg has moved to the Washington DC area to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

Feature on Rice Unconventional

Selected Publications

Lewis, Valerie A., Michael O. Emerson, and Stephen L. Klineberg. 2011. “Who We’ll Live With: Racial Composition Preferences of Whites, Blacks, and Latinos.” Social Forces, vol. 89, no. 4, June, pp. 1385-1407.

Klineberg, Stephen L. and Jie Wu. 2012. "The Houston Arts Survey: Participation, Perceptions, and Prospects." Rice University: Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Klineberg, Stephen L., Jie Wu, and Kiara Douds. 2013. "The 2012 Houston Education Survey: Public Perceptions in a Critical Time." Rice University: Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Klineberg, Stephen L. and Jie Wu. 2013. "Diversity and Transformation among Asians in Houston: Findings from the Kinder Institute’s Houston Area Asian Survey (1995, 2002, 2011)." Rice University: Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Klineberg, Stephen L., Jie Wu, and Christina Barrera. 2014. "What Accounts for Health Disparities? Findings from the Houston Surveys (2001-2013)." Rice University: Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Klineberg, Stephen L., Jie Wu, Kiara Douds, and Diane Ramirez. 2014. "Shared Prospects: Hispanics and the Future of Houston; Findings from the Houston Surveys (1994-2014)." Rice University: Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Klineberg, Stephen L., with Amy Hertz. 2020. "Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America." New York: Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 319 pp.

Klineberg, Stephen L. and Debbie Z. Harwell. 2020. “Tracking Houston Perceptions in Remarkable Times.” Houston History, Vol. 17, No. 2; Spring 2020, pp. 2-7.

Research Areas

Contemporary social change, survey research methodologies, urban and environmental sociology


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