Richard D. Alba is a sociologist and demographer, who is most known for his conceptual and empirical work to resuscitate assimilation theory for application to the multiracial American society of the early 21st century. He is also known for his research on immigrant-group integration in western Europe, especially in France and Germany. He was born in New York City in 1942 and grew up in the Bronx and attended the Bronx High School of Science. He graduated from Columbia University with an A.B. in German and earned his Ph.D. in sociology there in 1974. After teaching at the State University of New York for almost three decades, he returned to the City University of New York, where he began his teaching career, assuming the position of Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center in 2008. He has been elected Vice President of the American Sociological Association and President of the Sociological Research Association. He has held a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

Richard Alba is engaged with identifying patterns and mechanisms of mainstream assimilation in the United States and other western societies receiving large-scale immigration during the past half century. This effort has involved both empirical analysis and the theoretical development of assimilation theory to fit the multiracial societies of the 21st century. His research has led him to challenge the prevalent understanding of the demographic evolution of the U.S. in the near future, namely, the imminent majority-minority society. His examination of the surge of young Americans coming from mixed minority-white families reveals that--with the exception of those with black and white parentage, who continue to be impeded by racism-- they are mostly participating in the societal mainstream. He links this assimilation to a non-zero-sum theory, which holds that conditions for assimilation are most favorable when social ascent by minorities can occur without compensating descent by some in the majority. In the early 21st century, demographic shift creates these conditions.

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Section 53: Social and Political Sciences