Shelley Kimelberg is an urban sociologist who conducts research in the areas of urban education, economic development, and inequality. Her scholarship to date has focused on how actors’ subjective perceptions and individual decisions influence broader processes of urban change. Kimelberg’s most recent project explores how parents of young children negotiate the school selection process in Boston. Her interviews with a group of white middle- and upper middle-class parents who have embraced urban public schools complicates the well-known narrative of flight from declining urban institutions, and highlights the need to better understand the motivations of this small, but vocal and powerful, set of actors. Kimelberg’s work has appeared in City & Community, Sociological Forum, Urban Education, and Economic Development Quarterly, among other journals. She was elected Chair of SSSP’s Community Research and Development division (2011-2013), and serves on the Editorial Board for Sociological Forum.
Areas of Research/Interest:
• Urban Sociology
• Economic Development
• Social Policy
Kimelberg, Shelley M. 2014. “Beyond Test Scores: Middle-Class Mothers, Cultural Capital, and the Evaluation of Urban Public Schools.” Sociological Perspectives 57(2): 208-228.
Kimelberg, Shelley M. 2014. “’What Really Could Go Wrong in Kindergarten?’: Middle-class Parents’ Assessments of Risk in Urban Public Schools.” In Annette Lareau & Kim Goyette (eds.), Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools. New York: Russell Sage.
Posey-Maddox, Linn, Kimelberg, Shelley M. & Cucchiara, Maia. 2014. “Middle-Class Parent Engagement in Urban Public Schools: Current Research and Future Directions” Sociology Compass 8(4): 446-456.
Kimelberg, Shelley M. 2014. “Labor Needs, Crime, and the Business Location Decision: A Qualitative Account.” Community Development 45(1): 45-59.
Billingham, Chase & Kimelberg, Shelley M. 2013. “Middle-Class Parents, Urban Schooling, and the Shift from Consumption to Production of Urban Space.” Sociological Forum 28(1): 85-108.
Kimelberg, Shelley M. & Billingham, Chase. 2013. “Attitudes toward Diversity and theSchool Choice Process: Middle-Class Parents in a Segregated Urban Public School District.” Urban Education 48(2): 198-231.
Kimelberg, Shelley M & Williams, Elizabeth. 2013. “Evaluating the Importance of Business Location Factors: The Influence of Facility Type.” Growth & Change 44(1): 92-117.
Kimelberg, Shelley M. & Nicoll, Lauren A. 2012. “Business Location Decisions in the Medical Device Industry: Evidence from Massachusetts.” Economic Development Quarterly 26(1): 34-49.
Kimelberg, Shelley M. 2011. “Inside the Growth Machine: Real Estate Professionals on the Perceived Challenges of Urban Development.” City & Community 10(1): 76-99.
Kimelberg, Shelley M. 2010. “Can We Seal the Deal?: An Examination of Uncertainty in the Development Process.” Economic Development Quarterly 24(1): 87-96.
Selected Funding and Awards
2012 College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Research Development Program: Diversity in the Classroom: Measuring the Racial Preferences of Urban Parents.
2012 College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Collaborative Research Cluster: Access, Choice, and Involvement in Urban Public Schools: A Networked Perspective. Cluster PI.
2011 Outstanding Graduate Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Professional Affiliations and Associations
- American Sociological Association (Community & Urban; Sociology of Education Inequality, Poverty & Mobility)
- Society for the Study of Social Problems (Chair, Community Research & Development)
- Urban Affairs Association
- Eastern Sociological Society
- Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
- Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI)
Northeastern University Affiliations
Senior Research Associate, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy
Courses Taught Graduate:
- SOCL 7264 Urban Poverty: The Ethnographic Perspective