Randol Contreras
Randol Contreras

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Office: 1214 Watkins Hall
Phone: (951) 827-9248
Fax: (951) 827-3330
E-mail: randol.contreras@ucr.edu

Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Randol Contreras is an assistant professor with research interests in criminology, qualitative research, and ethno-racial conflicts. As a student of New York’s public university system, he attained a community college degree in Social Science, then a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and then a Ph.D. in Sociology from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

In his first book, The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream, he did field research on a group of Dominican men in the South Bronx, who robbed drug dealers storing large amounts of drugs and cash. Here, he used a socio-historical analysis to show how these men transformed from being crack-cocaine dealers to violent drug robbers, the worst perpetrators of violence in the drug world. The book has won several awards, such as the following:

The 2015 Albert J. Reiss Jr., Distinguished Scholarship Award

The 2014 Special Recognition Award for an Outstanding Monograph that Advances the Understanding of Urban Life

And The2013 UC Press Exceptional First Book Award 

It has also won other honors and distinctions, including being a Finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award.

Dr. Contreras has also conducted ethnographic research in South Central and Compton, where he studied the ethno-racial tensions among its residents. To date, he has published the project’s findings in the journals Environment and Planning Dand Qualitative Sociology.

Currently, he is doing field research on the Mexican Maravilla gangs of East Los Angeles, a book project that is currently under contract with the University of California Press. His larger goal is to use ethnography to make empirical links between macro social forces and the everyday meanings and behavior of people who live on the margins and participate in crime.


Contreras, Randol. 2018. “From Nowhere: Space, Race, and Time in How Young Minority Men Interpret Encounters with Gangs.” Qualitative Sociology  41(2): 263 – 280.

Contreras, Randol. 2017. “There’s No Sunshine: Spatial Anguish, Deflections, and Intersectionality in Compton and South Central.” Environment and Planning D 35(4): 656 – 673.

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