Inspired to learn Spanish to enhance her study of a Hispanic community establishing itself in Richmond, Va., Debra Jo Schleef is an expert on Latino migration and assimilation in the American South.
Professor of sociology at the University of Mary Washington, Dr. Schleef also is an authoritative source on the sociology of law, occupations and professions, professional education and socialization, and elites, as well as race, class, and gender.
Teaching courses in race and ethnicity at UMW led to her interest in examining for herself the experience of a particular ethnic group just an hour south of the university. That experience produced “Latinos in Dixie: Class and Assimilation in Richmond, Virginia,” the 2009 book Schleef penned with co-author H.B. Cavalcanti.
Her recent research focuses on the composition of the Hispanic community in the greater “New South,” including demographic trends, the impact of immigration on the area, and Latino efforts to adapt to their new home. Dr. Schleef also authored “Managing Elites: Professional Socialization in Law and Business Schools” in 2005 and penned the article “Jumping Ship or Merely Crossing the Aisle? An Analysis of the Circulation of Elite Lawyers in Sociology of Work: Networks, Employment, and Inequality.”
Her work has appeared in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Journal of American and Comparative Cultures, Gender Issues, the Hispanic Journal for Behavioral Studies, and Sociology of Education. She has participated in panel discussions on political and social trends in the South at the 17th annual Virginia Festival of the Book and on the experiences of recent Hispanic immigrants to Virginia at the University of Richmond.
A member of the American Sociological, Southern Sociological, and Law and Society associations, she is the recipient of two Mary Washington faculty development grants and a Jepson Fellowship.
Areas of Expertise (3)
Sociology of Law
Northwestern University: Ph.D., Post-Graduate Studies
Northwestern University: M.A., Graduate Studies
Indiana University at Indianapolis: B.A., Undergraduate Studies
Media Appearances (2)
Public survey seeks feedback on Stafford County homelessness
Continuum of Care member organizations had a role in developing the survey crafted by Debra Schleef, a sociology professor at the University of Mary Washington.
Survey asks: What do you know about the homeless?
The Free Lance-Star print
The survey, which gauges public opinion about the homeless, was crafted by Debra Schleef, a sociology professor at the University of Mary Washington. Her students will help collect surveys at community events and compile and analyze the data. Findings will be made available to the public next year.
Exploring Motivations for Law and Business School ChoiceSociology of Education
Students' accounts of their decisions to attend elite professional schools, although typically couched as preferences, actually reflect deep class-related constraints. In a sample of 79 law and business students, the author found that the majority chose their degrees for similar reasons: professional status, intellectual interest, and an upper-middle-class lifestyle.