Mary C. Waters
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Mary C. Waters is a sociologist who specializes in the study of immigration, the formation of racial and ethnic identity among the children of immigrants, and the challenges of measuring race and ethnicity. These themes are explored in her recent award-winning book, Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities (Harvard University Press, 1999).
At Radcliffe, Waters will complete a book on the lives of young adult children of immigrant parents in New York City, based on analysis of a large survey, in-depth life history interviews, and ethnographic observations. The study examines the socioeconomic, cultural, and social adjustments of the new second generation. Waters will also direct a cross-site qualitative study of the transition to adulthood in communities across the United States. This study asks how young people are leaving home, finishing education, finding work, choosing life partners, and becoming parents, given the documented extension of the period of young adulthood and the increasing variety in the timing and sequencing of these events.
Waters earned her bachelor’s at Johns Hopkins University and master’s degrees and a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. She has taught at Harvard University since 1986 and was chair of the Sociology Department from 2001 to 2005. Her work has been supported by the Russell Sage, Andrew W. Mellon, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. She has been a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2005.