Aptekar conducts research on immigration, race and ethnicity, and urban communities. She teaches classes on sociology, race and ethnic relations, sociological research methods, and social theory. Aptekar is knowledgeable about citizenship acquisition by immigrants in the United States and beyond, as well as how the naturalization process and the meaning of citizenship have changed over time. Her most recent work examines how people get along in diverse and changing urban neighborhoods. In recent years, Aptekar has served on an advisory board of a neighborhood-based youth enrichment organization, taught adult English learners, and volunteered as an instructor at a youth correctional facility.
"Organizational Life and Political Incorporation of Two Asian Immigrant Groups: A Case Study" Ethnic and Racial Studies 32, no. 9 (2009): 1511-1533.
Investigates participation in civil society among Asian Indian and Chinese immigrants in Edison, New Jersey, showing the role of race in political incorporation of Asian Indians and marginalization of Chinese immigrants.
"Naturalization Ceremonies and the Role of Immigrants in the American Nation" Citizenship Studies 16, no. 7 (2012): 937-952.
Shows how the stories told to and about recent American citizens have changed between mid-20th century and today. Discusses the implications of these stories for immigration policy and immigrant incorporation.
"Citizenship Status and Patterns of Inequality in the United States and Canada" Social Science Quarterly 95, no. 2 (2014): 343-359.
Demonstrates a growing inequality in the distribution of citizenship among immigrants in the United States and no such growth in Canada. Argues that the most disadvantaged unskilled immigrants are becoming ever more unlikely to gain access to the benefits of citizenship, including the right to vote, job opportunities, and security from deportation.
"Visions of Public Space: Reproducing and Resisting Social Hierarchies in a Diverse Community Garden" Sociological Forum 30, no. 1 (2015).
Argues that different ideas about the same small urban public space can lead to conflict that reinforces inequality in the neighborhood, while diversity provides opportunities for people with less power to get what they want.
The Road to Citizenship: What Naturalization Means for Immigrants and the United States (Rutgers University Press, 2015).
Examines citizenship acquisition from the perspective of immigrants and the American nation, demonstrates how naturalization exacerbates American inequality, and introduces policy alternatives.