Abel Valenzuela

Abel Valenzuela

Interim Dean, Social Sciences Division; Professor of Labor Studies, Urban Planning and Chicana/o and Central American Studies


Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.C.P. in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B.A. in Social Science, University of California, Berkeley

Areas of Interest:

Ethnic Communities - Latino American, Immigration, Labor and Employment, Race and Ethnicity


(310) 825-4017



Abel Valenzuela Jr. is the interim dean of UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences and professor of Labor Studies, Urban Planning and Chicana/o and Central American Studies. A member of UCLA’s faculty since 1994, Valenzuela has held several administrative leadership positions including chairing Chicana/o and Central American Studies, directing the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty and most recently serving as special advisor to the chancellor on immigration policy and as director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE).

During his tenure as director of IRLE, Valenzuela oversaw multiple units: Labor Studies, the Labor Center, the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) and the Human Resources Round Table (HARRT), which are dedicated to advancing research, teaching and service on labor and employment issues in Los Angeles and beyond.

As one of the leading national experts on day labor, he has published numerous articles and technical reports on the subject. His research interests include precarious labor markets, worker centers, immigrant workers and Los Angeles.

In addition to the topic of day labor, Valenzuela has published numerous articles on immigrant settlement, labor market outcomes, urban poverty and inequality, and he continues to frame national public and policy conversations on immigrant and low-wage workers.

Valenzuela was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in Venice Beach with his wife and three sons.


Selected Publications

Paul Apostolidis and Abel Valenzuela Jr.  2014.  “Cosmopolitan Politics and the Migrant Day Labor Movement.”  Politics, Groups, and Identities.  Vol. 2(2):222-244.

Valenzuela Jr., A.  2014.  “Regulating Day Labor: Worker Centers and Organizing in the Informal Economy.”  In The Informal City: Settings, Strategies, Responses (Eds) Vinit Mukhija and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sidris.  Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press.  Pgs 261-276.

Bostic, R.W., A. M. Kim, and A. Valenzuela Jr. 2016.  Guest Co-editors.  Symposium: Contesting the Streets.  Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. Volume 18, Number 1: Pgs, 3-122.

Theodore, N., D. Blaauw, C. Schenck, A. Valenzuela Jr., C. Schoeman, E. Melendez.  2015.  “Day Labor, Informality and Vulnerability in South Africa and the United States.”  International Journal of Manpower.  Vol. 36 No. 6: 1-18.

Areas of Expertise: economy, jobs low-wage workers, day labor, immigration, urban poverty, urban planning, inequality