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Victor Perez - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Victor Perez

Associate Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice; Core Faculty, Disaster Research Center | University of Delaware


Prof. Perez focuses on environmental racism and health disparities in historically marginalized communities.


Victor Perez, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice, focuses on environmental racism and health disparities in historically marginalized communities.

Areas of Expertise (3)

Health Disparities

Marginalized Communities

Environmental Racism

Media Appearances (5)

Enlighten Me: Climate-driven disasters raise environmental justice concerns in Delaware

Delaware Public Media  online


As climate change drives more extreme weather — should the First State look at preparedness through an environmental justice lens? Delaware Public Media’s Sophia Schmidt explores this question with Victor Perez at the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center

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Southbridge residents call for equal investment in $100M Riverfront East plan

The News Journal  online


[no abstract available]

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Researcher conducts second survey in two Rt. 9 neighborhoods on environment, relocation

Delaware Public Media  online


Now University of Delaware sociologist Victor Perez is analyzing data from a second survey— of property owners in the two neighborhoods. “So instead of saying, ‘how likely are you to move out,’ it’s ‘how likely are you to sell your property?’” he said. “And again it’s the similar context where it’s for a fair value of a similar property comparable to a low-crime area.”

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"It's our turn," Southbridge residents tired of being a dumping ground

The News Journal  online


Surrounded by the Christina River and flanked by industrial land, Southbridge has seen environmental damage coupled with the “economic vulnerabilities” of a low-income neighborhood, said Victor Perez, a University of Delaware sociologist who has studied the neighborhood’s fight against flooding and climate change.

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Residents living among industry take County survey on environmental perceptions, relocation

Delaware Public Media  online


Dr. Victor Perez is a professor of sociology at the University of Delaware with specializations in environmental justice, health and illness, and the sociology of risk. "The idea of relocation predicated on ... lived experiences of environmental burdens is relatively novel."

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Articles (5)

Greening, Revitalization, and Health in South Wilmington, Delaware

Delaware Journal of Public Health

2022 We highlight the potential for paradoxical impacts of green infrastructure integrated with urban redevelopment. Absent directly addressing social inequalities in parallel efforts, green infrastructure may lead to negative health outcomes of disadvantaged residents, including eventual displacement. We present the research literature and reviews on this topic. We next highlight the case of recent in-migration of higher-income Whites and others in South Wilmington, Delaware, spurred on by high-end Riverfront redevelopment at Christina Landing. This migration may obscure how greening efforts-such as a new wetlands park to control area flooding-influence health outcomes in Southbridge, a low-income, African American neighborhood also within South Wilmington. The area's Census tract boundary, often used in both health and equity assessments, is shared by these distinctive communities. When viewed through the lens of inequality, greening can have multi-faceted impacts that structure health outcomes. We underscore the importance of the mitigation of its potentially harmful effects.

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Knowledge and Concern for Sea-Level Rise in an Urban Environmental Justice Community

Sociological Forum

2016 Perceptions of sea-level rise in urban, environmental justice (EJ) communities are poorly understood. These communities' long-term vulnerability may increase as a result of the interaction of sea-level rise and legacy pollution. This article presents research on experience and perceptions of sea-level rise, flooding, legacy pollution/contamination, and health in an EJ community in northern Delaware. The community is in close proximity to documented brownfields and other hazardous sites, and is located where there are long-term projections of water inundation due to sea-level rise. Researchers administered quantitative surveys at local events that measured knowledge and concern for these issues; conducted focus groups that enabled a deeper understanding of survey results; and examined community perceptions relative to existing policy tools, including sea-level rise inundation maps and documentation of contaminated sites. The mixed-method approach created a baseline of perceptions on pollution, flooding, a health-environment connection, and sea-level rise. Key findings include the value of experiential knowledge of local flooding to improve efficacy of future policy prescriptions, and how a lack of knowledge of sea-level rise, coupled with great concern for it, might be explained by longtime familiarity with flooding issues in the community.

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Cancer Clusters in Delaware? How One Newspaper Turned Official Statistics into News


2015 The flagship newspaper for the state of Delaware, the News Journal, has been instrumental in disseminating information from state-generated reports of cancer clusters to its readers over the past 7 years. The stories provide colorful maps of census tracts designated as clusters, often on the front page, and detail the types of elevated cancers found in these tracts and the purported relationship of elevated cancer rates to local industry pollution. Though the News Journal also provided its readers with advice about interpreting these data with caution, it uncritically presented these data. Using the state’s unusual definition and measurement of elevated cancer incidence as cancer clusters, it transformed questionable statistics into an alarming public issue. This article critically examines these news reports and the state-generated reports they utilized.

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The relationship between seriously considering, planning, and attempting suicide in the youth risk behavior survey

Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior

2005 The assumed ordinal relationship between seriously considering, planning, and attempting suicide in the 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey was examined by constructing a trajectory that identified all possible response patterns among the four questions measuring suicidal activity. Statistical analysis tested for differences in frequency of risk behaviors across levels of the trajectory. Overall, the trajectory provided insight to the progression of adolescent suicidal activity and demonstrated usefulness as a measure of suicidal intent. Significant differences between means of dependent variables at each level of the normative trajectory supported the hypothesis that frequency of risk behaviors increases monotonically with successive suicidal thought and behavior.

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Drug Court Participants' Satisfaction with Treatment and the Court Experience

Drug Court Review

2002 There is little research on the impact of drug court programs on the participants. It is believed that levels of participant satisfaction with drug court can influence motivation to change, program participation, and treatment retention rates. Data were presented from 312 interviews with drug court clients shortly after discharge. Questions were designed to examine general satisfaction with drug court, reasons for drug court entry, and to elicit participants’ opinions of logistical issues, treatment staff and service delivery, judicial interactions, and a variety of program components. Results show that the clients that were most satisfied with drug court were married, infrequent substance users for whom the drug court program was their first experience with treatment. The drug court was found to be least satisfying for daily substance abusers with prior treatment experience, indicating that the program did not meet the needs and/or expectations of the more serious drug user. Logistical issues, including transportation and program timing, were more likely to negatively affect non-completers than completers. Avoiding jail/prison and having charges dropped were the primary reasons for program entry. Fewer participants indicated getting treatment as an important reason to enter drug court. Program completers were more likely to feel that treatment staff were supportive, to trust the judges, and to believe that the program would reduce their likelihood of relapse and recidivism. Overall, most drug court clients were satisfied with their treatment and courtroom experiences.

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Accomplishments (1)

Exemplary Achievement in Community Service Award from the DuPont Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories, University of Delaware (professional)


Education (3)

University of Delaware: PhD, Sociology 2007

University of Delaware: MA, Sociology 2002

Towson University: BS, Sociology 1999

Affiliations (5)

  • South Wilmington Planning Network (SWPN) : Member
  • Southbridge Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP) : Interim Chair
  • American Sociological Association : Member
  • Society for the Study of Social Problem : Member
  • Eastern Sociological Society : Member

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (5)

“The Lived Experience and Interpretation of Brownfields and Sea-Level Rise in South Wilmington, DE.”

2022, Annual Meeting of the Soil Science Society of America  Baltimore, MD

“Green Gentrification as a Consequence of Environmental Cleanup and Climate Adaptation.”

2021, College of Arts and Sciences, DENIN, and UD Sustainability Council’s Earth Day Symposium  University of Delaware

“The Intersection of Brownfields and Climate Change: The Need to Prioritize Vulnerable Communities.”

2020, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences - Climate and Environment Seminar  Brown University

“Understanding Coronavirus through the Lens of Environmental Justice.”

2020, Delaware Intercampus Climate Coalition  Virtual

“Visualizing the Geography of Environmental Justice.”

2018, Special Libraries Association (SLA) Annual Meeting  Baltimore, MD