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Celeste Watkins-Hayes

Professor of Sociology and African American Studies; and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Chapter Member: Chicagoland SSN

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About Celeste

Watkins-Hayes’ expertise lies in the areas of urban poverty; public policies and governmental agencies targeting low-income families; and the social and economic consequences of HIV/AIDS for women of diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. She explores questions such as: How do government and non-profit institutions address (or fail to address) the needs of those facing economic hardship? How do women financially and socially cope with living with HIV/AIDS, and how does this affect their ability to take care of themselves and their families? What will rising income inequality mean for the ability of individuals to move up the economic ladder? Watkins-Hayes serves on the Board of Trustees of Spelman College and the Advisory Board of the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center.


No Jargon Podcast

In the News

"What Jonathan Van Ness’s Story Teaches Us About the H.I.V. Epidemic," Celeste Watkins-Hayes, The New York Times, September 24, 2019.
"What Jonathan Van Ness's Story Teaches Us About the H.I.V. Epidemic," Celeste Watkins-Hayes, The New York Times, September 24, 2019.
"Betwixt and Between: Middle Class Women Living with HIV/AIDS," Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Chicago Magazine, January 24, 2012.
Celeste Watkins-Hayes quoted on U.S. poverty policies, "Welfare Issue Makes a Political Comeback" The Chicago Tribune, January 22, 2012.
"Brian Babylon and Comedy as a Social Science," Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Chicago Magazine, December 21, 2011.
"Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Post-Racial America," Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Chicago Magazine, December 14, 2011.
"HIV/AIDS and the 99 Percent," Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Chicago Magazine, December 2, 2011.
Guest to discuss HIV among Women in Chicago on WGN Chicago Morning News, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, March 9, 2010.
Guest to discuss black women improving lives after AIDS on CBS Channel 2 News – Chicago, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, February 19, 2010.
Guest to discuss Welfare Bureaucracy on The Conversation with Ross Reynolds, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, June 1, 2009.


"'Dying from' to 'living with': Framing Institutions and the Coping Processes of African American Women Living with HIV/AIDS" (with LaShawnDa Pittman-Gay and Jean Beaman). Social Science & Medicine 74 (2012): 2028-2036.
Examines how and why interactions with non-profit and government institutions help to explain variation between those who thrive and those who do not following an HIV diagnosis.
"Race, Respect, and Red Tape: Inside the Black Box of Racially Representative Bureaucracies" Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 21, no. 2 (2011): i233-i251.
Examines racial diversity among the workforces of street-level bureaucracies such as welfare and unemployment offices and its implications for staff-client relations.
"Precious: Black Women, Neighborhood HIV/AIDS Risk, and Institutional Buffers" (with Courtney Patterson and Amanda Armour). The DuBois Review 8, no. 1 (2011): 229-240.
Explains the structural and institutional realities that render poor black urban neighborhoods particularly vulnerable to high HIV infection rates. Points to institutions as intermediaries to reduce the transmission of HIV, but also to improved health management for HIV-positive inner-city residents.
The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform (The University of Chicago Press, 2009).
Examines the implementation of welfare reform on the front lines of service delivery and how the professional, racial, class, and community identities of welfare caseworkers and supervisors shape the implementation of policy and other organizational dynamics.
"Race-ing the Bootstrap Climb: Black and Latino Bureaucrats in Post-Reform Welfare Offices" Social Problems 56, no. 2 (2009): 285–310.
Looks at whether and how race and socioeconomic class are used as tools in the delivery of casework services and finds that not only inter-racial but also intra-racial politics inform institutional processes within street-level bureaucracies.
"The Social and Economic Context of Black Women Living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.: Implications for Research" in Sex, Power and Taboo: Gender and HIV in the Caribbean and Beyond, edited by Dorothy Roberts, Rhoda Reddock, Dianne Douglas, and Sandra Reid (Ian Randle Publishers, 2008).
Looks at the social consequences of HIV/AIDS for black women in the United States, including examinations of the various ways in which their social and economic experiences are impacted by the interplay between their health statuses and racial, gender, and class locations.
"Creating Networks for Survival and Mobility: Social Capital among African-American and Latin-American Low-Income Mothers" Social Problems 50, no. 1 (2003): 111-135.
Examines the social networks of low-income mothers to see how they generate social capital to obtain resources for survival and social mobility.