Sociology 156 – Literature Review Instructions
UCLA Winter Quarter 2022
Due on Friday, March 11 at 5 PM PST
General Instructions: For this assignment you will write an 8-page literature review on a
specific topic related to race and/or ethnicity in the U.S. Your paper should pose a research
question, then use information from at least 8 credible, outside sources to answer this question.
It’s fine if you do not find a single answer to the question; if sources provide different and/or
conflicting answers, you will discuss these differences in your review.
Your paper should be double-spaced, with 12-point font and normal margins. At the top
of the first page, please put a title and your name. At the end of your paper, have a list of
references that starts on a separate page from the rest of the text. The references page does not
count towards the page requirement.
Be sure to incorporate the feedback you received from your TA on your annotated
bibliography. You can adjust your research question if necessary. Please refer to the “Annotated
Bibliography Instructions” for information about selecting a topic and developing an RQ.
Organization: Your paper should be organized into the following sections. You can use
headings to separate sections or sub-sections.
1. Introduction (1-2 paragraphs)
A. A brief description of the topic (to set up your research question)
B. Your research question (which should be very clearly stated)
C. Short summary of the answer(s) you found. If relevant, point out conflicting answers.
Come back to this when you’ve finished the rest of the paper to make sure it fits.
D. You may also say here why you think this topic is important, or why you chose it
2. How the sources address/answer your research question (the majority of your paper)
A. Describe information from sources that addresses/answers your research question.
B. Include in-text citations in every paragraph in which you draw on a source
C. Focus on presenting the evidence/findings that’s relevant for your paper, not
describing the sources in full.
D. Make sure it’s clear how the specific information links back to your question.
E. Point out (and explain) similarities or differences between what the sources tell you
about the answer to your research question.
Make it clear if the findings/evidence from sources is complementary (i.e., both
could be right) or contradictory (i.e., if one is right, the other is wrong)
F. All of the information here should come from the sources, not your own knowledge or
3. Conclusion (1-2 paragraphs)
A. Restate research question
B. Summarize the answer(s) based on the sources you found. Re-cite the sources.
C. If relevant, point out conflicting answers from different sources.
You may also say which one you think is correct, and why, or say more
evidence is necessary.
D. If applicable, you may also give your own opinion on what should be done to address
the issue discussed in your paper
Sources: You should use at least 8 credible sources for your paper, not including readings or
lectures for this class. You are allowed to cite lectures and assigned readings, but they do not
count towards the requirement to have at least 8 sources. (You can definitely use sources that
you described in your literature review unless your TA has raised concerns about their reliability
or usefulness). See the “Annotated Bibliography Instructions” for more information about what
kind of sources are credible, recommended ways of looking for sources, etc. For tips on
evaluating sources, see the handout posted on the course website in the “Literature Review
Citations: Please follow the American Psychology Association (APA) style. You only need to
follow the rules about in-text citations and list of references. You can ignore all of the other APA
rules (like needing an abstract).
You should include an in-text citation in any paragraph when you are drawing on
information from a source. In addition, whenever you make a factual claim, you need to back it
up with an in-text citation; don’t make claims that aren’t confirmed by sources. See the handout
on the course website called “In-text Citations in APA Style” for more information. You can also
find a useful guide to APA style at Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, at
At the end of your paper, have a list of references starting on a separate page. Be sure to
check that all of the sources you draw on are included in it. For more information, see the
handout on the course website called “List of References in APA Style,” or check out Purdue’s
guide at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/.
Academic Honesty: All students are expected to comply with the university’s policies on
academic integrity. For this paper, you must not:
• Plagiarize another work by failing to cite the source of the ideas you use
• Plagiarize by using a direct quote from a work without putting it in quotation marks
• Re-use any work you submitted for a previous class without permission
• Writing part, or all, of a paper for another student
Academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Students’ office. For more information, see
Submitting your Final Paper: You will submit your paper through a link on the course website.
Save your paper as a .pdf or .docx file before submitting it. A service called Turnitin will check
your paper for evidence of plagiarism. Papers that are e-mailed will not be accepted. Papers that
are submitted late will have points deducted for each day they are submitted after the due date.
Additional Guidance: If you have questions about any aspect of your paper you are encouraged
to ask your TA or Professor Speer. See the syllabi for e-mail addresses and office hours. You can
also can get one-on-one help with writing from the UCLA Undergraduate Writing Center, at
http://wp.ucla.edu/wc/. In addition, you can check out UCLA Library’s Research Tutorial videos,
or use the “Ask a Librarian” service to get help (https://www.library.ucla.edu/research-teachingsupport/research-help). Lastly, you are welcome to talk with other students about your ideas for
the paper and help each other with proofreading (as long as you don’t collaborate on writing the
content of the paper).
SOCIOL 156: Race and Ethnicity in American Life
TA: Oscar Mayorga
Factors Leading to Racial Disparities in Exposure to Air Pollution
Differential exposure to air pollution by race is just one aspect of the injustice known as
environmental racism. The term environmental racism refers to environmental practices that
disadvantage people differently based on their race (Bullard, 1999). Research shows that air
pollution does not burden members of all races equally (Mikati, Benson, Luben, et. al., 2018).
Mikati, Benson, Luben, et. al. (2018) find that racial disparities in exposure to the air pollutants
they studied were even stronger than poverty-based disparities, and Black and Hispanic
individuals bear the largest burden of air pollution. Clark, Millet, & Marshall (2017) find that
though, overall, air quality in the US has improved following the enactment of the 1990 Clean
Air Act Amendment, the rankings of the most to least exposed groups to by race to air pollution
has remained consistent over time. They conclude from their evidence that environmental
injustice, on a relative basis, persists (Clark, Millet, & Marshall, 2017). Exposure to air pollution
has severe consequences on health (Kampa and Castanas, 2008). The health effects of exposure
to these particles differ by the composition, dose, and time of exposure, and can result in various
impacts on human health (Kampa and Castanas, 2008). These impacts can range from nausea,
difficulty breathing, skin irritation, to cancer (Kampa and Castanas, 2008). Children raised in
areas with higher levels of air pollution are more prone to birth defects, developmental delays,
and compromised immune systems (Kampa and Castanas, 2008). Short and long-term exposure
has even been linked with a reduced life expectancy (Kampa and Castanas, 2008). Thus,
differential exposure to air pollution likely contributes to health and mortality disparities by race,
making this topic crucial to study. Through this research, I seek to answer the question: what are
some of the factors that contribute to differential exposure to air pollution by race? I have found
that the main causes of these disparities are racial residential segregation, and the concentration
of poverty and political powerlessness that arises through this process. This results both in a
decreased ability for non-whites to move away from sources of pollution, and also the targetting
of minority neighborhoods by developers to place pollution-causing facilities.
Residential segregation by race primes certain neighborhoods to bear the burden of air
pollution by concentrating poverty and political powerlessness (Orfield, 2005). Even though
residential segregation is no longer legally mandated, it is still a very real phenomenon (Orfield,
2005). Orfield (2005) points out that at the heart of almost every urban center in the US are
segregated neighborhoods and high poverty rates. In the United States, 75% of poor whites live
in predominantly middle class neighborhoods (Orfield, 2005). In contrast, poor Black people are
six times as likely as whites to live in neighborhoods that are densely populated with poor
people, and poor Latinx are more than three times as likely as whites to live in such
neighborhoods (Orfield, 2005). When poverty is concentrated in this fashion, it has the effects of
reproducing and compounding the effects of poverty by reducing equality of opportunity
(Jargowsky, 2002). Massey (2001) points out that that Black people tend to live in
systematically disadvantaged neighborhoods, even when compared to whites of similar social
status. Black and White people increasingly moved into different municipalities, meaning race is
segregated not only by neighborhood but by town and city as well (Massey, 2001). I will next
explain how this present-day racial segregation and poverty concentration has manifested
through historical and current processes, and then how this contributes to disparities in air
Concentration of Poverty
Historical processes have concentrated poverty by facilitating white flight and shutting
nonwhites out of wealth-building opportunities, thus limiting their ability to purchase homes
away from air pollution. Pulido (2000) uses Los Angeles’ history to illustrate the processes that
lead nonwhites to live in poor, segregated neighborhoods with a high concentration of poverty.
Los Angeles’ history is similar to other regions in the US in the kind of restructuring that
happened over the past fifty years, in which whites and middle class Americans moved out of
urban centers to suburbanized areas during a process known as ‘white flight’ (Pulido, 2000). This
process began in the 19th century as whites refused to live near immigrants and people of color,
and they had financial motives and means to move away. Poor whites, though they had fewer
means to move into affluent neighborhoods, were not as violently shut out of housing
opportunities as nonwhites, and thus able to enjoy white privilege in the housing market (Pulido,
2000). Orfield (2005) points out that even poor whites immigrating to the US in the nineteenth
century never had to live in the kind of concentrated poverty that is the norm for poor Black and
Latino people today. During the World War II era, the state actively subsidized suburbinization
for whites only, by guaranteeing lower interest rates, small down payments on loans, and longer
mortgage periods (Pulido, 200; Orfield, 2005). People of color, especially Black and Latinx
people, were relegated to the central city, in ghettos and barrios, respectively (Pulido, 2000). The
Federal Housing Act continued to increase the supply and availability of suburban homes in a
racially biased fashion, while the institutionalization of redlining practices limited financing and
mortgage insurance on a racial basis as well (Pulido, 2000). Not only did these processes cut
many nonwhites out of the wealth-building opportunity of owning a suburban tract home, but
they exacerbated the extreme residential segregation, and concentration of poverty that persists
Racial barriers in the housing market are not just a thing of the past. Persistent
discrimination in education and employment continues to restrict nonwhites to a lower
socioeconomic status, limiting their financial ability to buy houses in wealthier communities
(Brulle and Pellow, 2006). Furthermore, through a series of racist mechanisms during the
homebuying process, Black and Latino people are restricted from buying homes in ‘white’
neighborhoods (Brulle and Pellow, 2006). For example, real estate agencies will show Black and
Latino people only a small subset of the market, and steer whites away from integrated areas,
regardless of their economic background (Orfield, 2005). Mortgage lenders will also
discriminate against Black and Latino homebuyers by systematically under-loaning to them
(Orfield, 2005). The effect of this segregation and concentration of poverty in non-white
neighborhoods and inner cities also means disparities in public services, which rely on money
from property taxes (Orfield, 2005). This means that health services that might be able to
alleviate the effects of air pollution are often much worse in poor minority neighborhoods since
such neighborhoods tend to have lower property values (Orfield, 2005). All of these factors limit
the ability for nonwhites to buy homes in suburbs and areas with safer air quality. In contrast to
the barriers faced by non-whites, Pulido (2000) finds that whites had the means to move out of
Central LA toward the more expensive neighborhoods along the coast that are less affected by
air pollution, which tends to drift inland.
Occupational segregation, while different from residential segregation, is nonetheless
connected and has effects on exposure to air pollution. The pattern of whites moving out of cities
also led to concentration of poverty a s well as an increase in pollution faced by (mostly) Black
Americans through its effect on the occupational sector (Orfield, 2005). Businesses followed
whites by relocating from the cities to the suburbs, and the jobs remaining within the cities where
a majority of Black people remained were in low-tech, older factories with more hazardous
working conditions (Orfield, 2005). White (1998) delves deeper in discussing the racial
disparities in occupational health. He states that people of color bear a disproportionate amount
of occupational risks caused by environmental hazards in the workplace (White, 1998). For
example, a study of a rubber plant found that 27% of the plant’s Black workers and only 3% of
its white workers were exposed to high levels of toxic particles in dust, chemicals, and vapor
(White, 1998). Also, while 90% of US farmworkers are people of color, mostly Latinx, this has
become the third most dangerous occupation in the US (White, 1998). Much of this danger is due
to the exposure to pesticides, which kills over 300,000 farm workers per year (White, 1998).
Thus, occupational segregation compounds the risks of exposure to air pollution, especially for
Black and Latinx people.
Residential segregation not only results in a concentration of poverty; it also results in the
concentration of political powerlessness in minority neighborhoods, including a lack of control
over land use. Members of poorer neighborhoods are thus limited in their ability to oppose
environmental hazards and pollutants near their neighborhoods (Orfield, 2005). When whites
arrived into the suburbs during white flight, they were incentivized to protect their investment
through incorporation, which ensured its residents more power and control over local land use
(Orfield, 2005). This control is over both the industries that go in their neighborhood, and the
exclusion of outsiders through restrictive covenants and advertising practices (Pulido, 2000). For
example, Pulido (2000) finds that whites continue to move out of Central Los Angeles, to areas
where they have more control over land use policies, while Central Los Angeles remains zoned
for industries, making them targets for low-tech polluting industries, and incinerator projects.
Houston, Wu, Ong, et. al. (2004) also point to the fact that poor minority neighborhoods are
more likely to be in areas with high population densities, with a high concentration of
transportation, industrial, and commercial land use, uses known to heighten cancer risk from
Even poor whites, because they have broader housing choices than Black and Latinx
people, can choose to move into environmentally safer neighborhoods (Pulido, 2000). But, the
proximity of polluting facilities to non-white neighborhoods is not exclusively due to the fact
that whites can move away from polluting sources. Black and Latinx neighborhoods are actually
purposefully targeted as locations for hazardous waste sites (Hamilton, 1995). in fact, in 1991, 3
in 5 Black and Hispanic Americans lived in communities with toxic waste sites (Colquette &
Robinson, 1991). Another example of targeting that Houston, Wu, Ong, et. al. (2004) note, is the
construction of freeway systems through poor minority neighborhoods. This practice not only
fragments neighborhood communities and institutions, but places residents in close proximity to
high levels of traffic and thus vehicle-related pollutants (Houston, Wu, Ong, et. al, 2004). As
another example of intentional siting, Mirabelli, Wing, Marshall, et. al. (2006) find that
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, which release a high number of air pollutants, are
disproportionately concentrated in Black communities despite the declining number of Black
farmers in the US.
Orfield (2005) argues that a large part of what explains this targeting of minority
neighborhoods is that that the poor are relatively politically powerless, since they are more likely
to be overwhelmed with the requirements of living, less-informed about political issues, less
likely to vote, and unable to donate substantially to political campaigns. There is agreement
among studies that state that the decision-making groups determining where to locate undesirable
land uses often follow the path of least resistance, and often decide to place polluting facilities
where they are least likely to face political opposition (Orfield, 2005; Hamilton, 1995).
Hamilton (1995) found that probability of collective action is the variable that best helps to
explain the disparity in pollution across communities. He finds evidence that the probability of
targeting a site to place a hazardous waste facility decreases as the potential for collective action
in the area increases, which is measured by voter turnout in a county (Hamilton, 1995).
Institutionalized racism in housing, education, and employment markets affects political
participation, thus affecting the distribution of polluting sites in a way that perpetuates
environmental racism (Hamilton, 1995).
Colquette (1991) details the conflict that arises in the siting process for hazardous waste
facilities. This conflict is between the majority residents of the state or nation and minority
residents of the host site (Colquette, 1991). When developers are planning to place a hazardous
waste site in a minority’s neighborhood, majority members tend to approve of the fact that these
sites would not be in their backyard, while minority members obviously oppose these sites, since
they would be vulnerable to the risks posed by them (Colquette, 1991). However, the resources
required by minority members to implement the techniques required to fight back against this
siting are extensive (Colquette, 1991). To successfully protest against the siting of a hazardous
facility typically requires a strong economic, educational, and political background that those in
lower socioeconomic groups do not have access to (Colquette, 1991). Political participation is
thus absent of such groups, which further helps explain why poor minority communities are
frequently targeted for hazardous facilities (Colquette, 1991).
White (1998) similarly finds that those who have the resources to organize, march, sue,
and petition to stop developers can successfully cause interminable delays. However, White
(1998) delves furthermore into the role of politicians in this process. When environmental
hazards are mentioned in affluent communities, this almost always results in protests, which then
lead to protests by their elected officials (White, 1998). This usually results in a compromise to
place the hazard near the neighborhoods of people of color, who typically do not have the
resources to proactively protest the siting of these hazards (White, 1998). This does not
necessarily mean there is no backlash to this siting (Whites, 1998). However, poor minority
residents typically only protest reactively, once the site has already been built. (White, 1998)
This is reactive versus proactive behavior is due in part, because members of poor minority
neighborhoods typically do not have contacts in government or industry that would be necessary
to get involved during the planning and pre-planning stages that go into siting an environmental
hazard (White, 1998). Politically, it is safer for elected officials of these areas to investigate why
something happened rather than to intervene while it is happening, so they will typically refuse
to engage in proactive behavior against the siting on behalf of their poor constituents of color
This paper seeks to answer the research question: what are some of the factors that
contribute to differential exposure to air pollution by race? These articles all point to the role of
residential racial segregation, and the concentration of poverty and political powerlessness in
contributing to differential exposures. These mutually reinforcing processes contribute to
differential exposure by placing barriers on wealth attainment by non-whites and the ability to
move out of areas with high levels of air pollution. These processes also result in a concentration
of political powerlessness that makes poor non-white neighborhoods vulnerable targets for air
polluting industries such as roads, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and hazardous
waste sites. In my opinion, the research points a finger mostly to the detrimental effects of
residential segregation, and calls us to tackle racial and class residential segregation as a root
issue causing racial disparities in health. Furthermore, environmental protection agencies and
politicians must cease to place the burden of proof on victims of environmental racism and
proactively defend vulnerable neighborhoods from environmental hazards. Lastly, I believe this
shows the need for active efforts to politically empower residents of impoverished communities,
so that they can take control of their health into their own hands.
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Environmental Inequalities. Annual Review of Public Health, 27(1), 103-124.
Bullard, R. D. (1999). Dismantling environmental racism in the USA. Local Environment, 4(1),
Clark L.P., Millet D.B., & Marshall J.D. (2017) Changes in transportation-related air pollution
exposures by race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status: outdoor nitrogen dioxide in the
United States in 2000 and 2010. Environ Health Perspect.125(9)
Colquette, K.; Robertson, E. (1991). Environmental racism: The causes, consequences, and
commendations. Tulane Environmental Law Journal. 5(1), 153-208.
Hamilton, J. (1995). Testing for Environmental Racism: Prejudice, Profits, Political Power?
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 14(1), 107-132. doi:10.2307/3325435
Houston, D., Wu, J., Ong, P. & Winer, A. (2004) Structural Disparities of Urban Traffic in
Southern California: Implications for Vehicle-Related Air Pollution Exposure in Minority
and High-Poverty Neighborhoods. Journal of Urban Affairs. 26:5, 565-592, DOI:
Jargowsky, P. (2002) Sprawl, Concentration of Poverty, and Urban Inequality. Urban Sprawl:
Causes, Consequences, & Policy Responses pp. 39-72. Washington, D.C: Urban Institute
Kampa M., & Castanas, E. (2008). Human health effects of air pollution. Environmental
Pollution, 151(2), 362–367. 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.06.012.
Massey, D. (2001) Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions in U.S. Metropolitan
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Trends and Consequences. 391-434. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Mikati, I., Benson, A. F. , Luben, T. J., Sacks, J. D., & Richmond-Bryant, J. (2018) Disparities in
Distribution of Particulate Matter Emission Sources by Race and Poverty Status.
American Journal of Public Health 108(4): pp. 480-485.
Mirabelli M.C., Wing S., Marshall S., Wilcosky T. 2006 Race, poverty, and potential exposure
middle school students to air emissions from confined swine feeding operations. Environ
Health Perspect 114:591-59
Orfield, Myron. (2006) Segregation and Environmental Justice. Minnesota Journal of Law,
Science, and Technology. 7(1) 147-160.
Pulido, L. (2000) Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in
Southern California, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 90:1, 12-40,
White H.L. (1998). Race, class, and environmental hazards. In Environmental Injustices,
Political Struggles, ed. DE Camacho, pp. 61–81. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press
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