Publications - Alethia Jones
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My Publications 

Specialty Areas

  • Immigrant integration (especially informal banking and microfinance in the US)
  • Urban studies and community development;
  • Politics of the public policy process
  • Race, ethnicity and politics
  • Historical political science
  • Labor and worker rights
  • Addressing structural inequality in healthcare
  • Research methods
    • Comparative across time and racial, ethnic and nationality groups
    • Qualitative (interviews, participant observation, and archival research), utilizing census, public opinion and other statistical data as warranted.
    • Interdisciplinary, utilizing history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, politics and policy.


Review of Walk With Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kate Clifford Larson (2021, Oxford University Press) at Women and Social Movements, Volume 26: 2 (2022)
“Prologue: A Message from Open Society’s New Executives Fund.” - 2021.
“Agents of Change: How Allied Health Care Workers Advance Structural Competency,” in Structural Competency in Mental Health and Medicine : A Case Based Approach to Treating the Social Determinants of Health. Helena Hansen and Jonathan Metzl, eds. (Springer 2019).



This case offers a "bottom up" view of the health care industry through the voices of workers essential to the industry's operations, including unskilled and semi-skilled titles. Allied health care workers are often invisible members of the health care workforce, revealing the industry's own internal hierarchies of class, race, gender and status. This case illuminates their struggles, successes and challenges to end structural inequality in the workplace as they fight to transform low-wage, exploitative jobs into dignified, fairly compensated careers. Non-clinical members of the team are essential to improving patient care and obtaining structural change. Their knowledge and insight as partners are central to new innovations in care delivery. The case concludes with four ways to forge effective ties with worker and labor organizations to deepen structural competency within health care organizations. Read the full publication here: Structural Competency in Mental Health and Medicine - Apr 23, 2019

“Introduction,” Special Issue: Labor and Racial Justice, Labor Studies Journal. Vol 42(1): 5-9. (2017.)
Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks with Barbara Smith. Foreward by Robin D. G. Kelley.


Read chapter 1

Purchase: Alibris 


Awards Received:

  • Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir/Biography (2015).
  • Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction (2014).
  • ForeWord IndieFab Book of the Year in Women’s Studies (Silver Winner 2014).
“Identity Politics: Part of a Reinvigorated Class Politics.” New Labor Forum. 2010.



Identity politics has its share of shortcomings. But the problems that plague an anemic class politics won’t be solved by eliminating its supposed competitor. In recent decades, identity politics has mushroomed to include more and more social groups for good reason: numerous categories of persons have been systematically denied rights, privileges, and social respect. Major social categories, like race and sexuality, are not a “distraction” from the “real” problem of economic inequality; rather they are an integral part of an individual’s lived experiences. But identity politics cannot end all forms of inequality. At best, it is one strategy in a larger assault against systems of inequality.


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“Let’s Talk Immigration: An Interactive Workshop Promoting Public Dialogue on Immigration” 2010.
“Inclusive Religious Values in the Immigration Debate: Locating and Assessing its Past Role and Future Impact.” Carnegie Corporation. Strangers and Neighbors Project 2010.
“Immigration and Institutional Change: The Urban Origins of U.S. Postal Savings Banks.” In The City and American Political Development. Ed. Richardson Dillworth. New York: Routledge 2009.



Starting in 1910, any member of the public could open a savings account at the post office.1 With this new service, the federal government expanded its administrative responsibilities. It would collect hundreds of millions in savings deposits, despite the fact that traditional banks offered savings accounts. For American political development scholars, postal banks are a clear-cut case of the expansion of the state’s administrative capacities. This policy coup, the introduction of a government bank in a capitalist society, suggests the successful vanquishing of traditionally powerful economic interests. The postal bank case provides solid evidence of the theoretical proposition that unlikely social groups can and do win significant policy victories. Scholars have identified the presence of distinct social movements (agrarian populists and urban social welfare reformers) as well as state actors (high-and mid-level bureaucrats in the Post Office Department) in securing this policy change. Despite scrutinizing the politics of postal banks, these scholars have largely overlooked the critical role of urbanization in furnishing a rationale for bureaucratic expansion and the centrality of “shifts in governing authority” in understanding this institution. As a result, existing scholarship has neither documented nor tried to address the public’s reaction to this new service.


Link to chapter here

“Social Facts versus Social Realities in the New Millennium.” Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History. 40:4 (174-178) 2007.
“Bootstraps and Beltways: The State’s Role in Immigrant Community Banking,” Yale University, Dissertation 2005.



Immigrant informal banking relies on trust, norms and networks to keep agreements rather than laws, courts, or written contracts. Although research exists on the sociological and economic dimensions of informal banking, this study examines them comparatively with explicit attention to the role of public action. Policy decisions targeted Eastern European unincorporated banks in 1917 and Haitian essos in 1998. I assessed how immigrants with equivalent levels of social capital influenced and are affected by laws creating postal savings banks, state chartered neighborhood banks and liberalized underwriting for mortgages.


This research shows that government intervention lowered barriers to bank ownership and services, which increased working class access to cheap sources of credit, an important move in overcoming inequalities in homeownership, small business development and other mechanisms of mobility. These changes transformed informal practices from a liability that justified economic discrimination and exclusion to a resource for creating a more democratic and inclusive formal banking sector.


Political movements embedded in public interest and social welfare networks created these policy shifts, rather than ethnic interest groups or immigrant civic participation. As a result, policy advocacy by elites actually constructed “bottom-up,” community-based financial institutions. In these new sites for formal banking, immigrant community knowledge found legitimacy, giving their social ties new viability in these venues. Examining the political development of community banking institutions illuminates how the politics of policy designs, rather than immigrant political participation, has re-configured the structure of service delivery and constitutes another dimension of the state’s role in incorporating immigrants.


Read chapter one here

Read full dissertation here

“Women of Color in the Eighties: A Portrait Based on Census Data.” Tamara Jones and Alethia Jones. In Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader. Eds. Cathy Cohen, Kathy Jones and Joan Tronto. New York: NYU Press 1997.

Buy here : Alibris 

“Elm Haven: Historical Overview.” In Case Study Materials: Community Renaissance Fellows Program. A concise history of one of the first public housing projects in the nation, constructed in New Haven, CT in the 1930s, steps away from Yale University.