Thomas S. Weisner


Thomas S. Weisner

Professor Emeritus in Residence

Office: C8-678 Semel


Phone: 310-794-3632

Personal Website

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Thomas S. Weisner is Professor of Anthropology in the Departments of Psychiatry (NPI Semel Institute, Center for Culture and Health) and of Anthropology at UCLA.

His research and teaching interests are in culture and human development; medical, psychological and cultural studies of families and children at risk; mixed methods; and evidence-informed policy. He is Director of the Center for Culture & Health at UCLA, and the Fieldwork and Qualitative Data Laboratory in the Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center. The Lab has developed a range of supports for mixed methods, including the software Dedoose and EthnoNotes, and the Ecocultural Family Interview. He is currently collaborating (with Andrew Fuligni and Nancy Gonzalez) on a new study of the daily activities, family responsibilities and obligations, and academic and behavioral outcomes of 425 Mexican-American teens and parents in Los Angeles. He is a co-PI on a qualitative follow-up study of over 200 young adults diagnosed 12 years earlier with ADHD. He continues to study impacts of family supports on children and families, based on a longitudinal random-assignment experimental study over 8 years of a successful support program for working-poor parents (with Greg Duncan, Aletha Huston, Hiro Yoshikawa, Bob Granger and others). He has also collaborated in a longitudinal study of families with children with developmental disabilities (with Ron Gallimore, Barbara Keogh). He has done longitudinal field research (through 1992) in Western Kenya and Nairobi, on sibling caretaking of children, and on the long-term consequences of urban migration for children and families, as well as studies of sibling caretaking and school competence among Native Hawaiians (with Ron Gallimore) and Latina youth in California (Patricia East).

Weisner has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a member of the MacArthur Foundation research network on successful pathways in middle childhood, is past President of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, is a Senior Program Advisor to the William T Grant Foundation, is on the Board of ChildFund, International, and is on the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development. He is the co-author of Higher Ground: New Hope for the Working Poor and Their Children(2007) (with Greg Duncan and Aletha Huston); co-editor of Making it work: Low-wage employment, family life and child development (with Hiro Yoshikawa & Edward Lowe), (2006); editor of Discovering successful pathways in children’s development: New methods in the study of childhood and family life(2005); and co-editor of African families and the crisis of social change (with Candice Bradley and Phil Kilbride) (1997). His B.A. in Anthropology is from Reed College (1965) and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1973) in Anthropology and Social Relations.


Weisner, T. S. (in press). Culture, context and child well-being. In ‪A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frones, & J. E. Korbin (Eds.), Handbook of child well-being: Theories, methods and policies in global perspective. Dordrecht: Springer Verlag.

Weisner, T.S. (2013). Why qualitative and ethnographic methods are essential for understanding family life. In S. McHale, P. Amato, & A. Booth (Eds.), Emerging methods in family research: Approaches to measuring families. Dordrecht: Springer Verlag.

Weisner, T.S. & Duncan, G. (in press). The world isn’t linear or additive or decontextualized: Pluralism and mixed methods in understanding the effects of anti-poverty programs on children and parenting. In Gershoff, Mistry, & Crosby Eds. Societal contexts of child development: Pathways of influence and implications for practice and policy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Weisner, T.S. (in press). The socialization of trust: Plural caretaking and plural pathways in human development across cultures. In Otto, H., & Keller H. Eds. Different faces of attachment. Cambridge, UK: Oxford Univ. Press.

Steinberg, M. & Weisner, T. S. (2012). Review of Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective. Cati Coe, Rachel Reynolds, Deborah Boehm, Julia Hess, and Heather Rae-Espinoza, eds. Ethos 40:4.

Weisner, T. S. (2012). Mixed methods should be a valued practice in Anthropology. Anthropology News, May, p. 1-2.

Weisner, T. S. (2011). Culture and Social Development.. In M. K. Underwood & L. H. Rosen (Eds). Social Development. New York: Guilford. Pp. 372 – 399.

Duncan, G., Huston, A., & Weisner, T. (2007). Higher Ground: New Hope for working families and their children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Yoshikawa, H., Weisner, T. S., & Lowe, E. (Eds.). (2006). Making it work: Low-wage employment, family life and child development. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Weisner, T.S. 2011. The Ecocultural Family Interview: New conceptualizations and uses for the study of illness. Papers in honor of Vanna Axia. Padova: University of Padova Press.

Weisner, T.S., & Barbara H. Fiese. (2011). Introduction to the special section of the Journal of Family Psychology: Integrative and applied solutions for family science. Journal of Family Psychology 25 (6):795-798.

Weisner, T.S. (2011). If you work in this country you should not be poor, and your kids should be doing better: Bringing mixed methods and theory in psychological anthropology to improve research in policy and practice. Ethos 39 (4):455 – 476.

Weisner, T.S. (2010). John & Beatrice Whiting’s contributions to the cross-cultural study of human development: Their values, goals, norms, and practices. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 41(4): 499-509.

Weisner, T. S. (2011). Culture and Social Development.. In M. K. Underwood & L. H. Rosen (Eds). Social Development. New York: Guilford. Pp. 372 – 399.

Lieber, E. & Weisner, T.S. (2010). Meeting the practical challenges of mixed methods research. In Tashakkori and Teddlie, Eds. Handbook of Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pp 559 – 579.

East, P. L. & Weisner, T.S. (2009). Mexican-American Adolescents’ family caregiving: Selection effects and longitudinal associations with adjustment. Family Relations 58 (December 2009): 562 – 577.

East, P.L., Weisner, T.S, & Slonim, A. (2009). Youths’ caretaking of their adolescent sisters’ children. Results from two longitudinal studies. Journal of Family Issues 30(12): 1671-1697.

Weisner, T. S. (2009). Culture, Development, and Diversity: Expectable Pluralism, Conflict, and Similarity. Ethos 37(2): 181-196.

Weisner, T.S. (2009). Parenting. In Shweder, Richard A., Thomas R. Bidell, Anne C. Dailey, Suzanne D. Dixon, Peggy J. Miller, and John Modell, eds. THE CHILD: AN ENCYCLOPEDIC COMPANION. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weisner, T.S. (2009). African Childhood. In Shweder, Richard A., Thomas R. Bidell, Anne C. Dailey, Suzanne D. Dixon, Peggy J. Miller, and John Modell, eds. THE CHILD: AN ENCYCLOPEDIC COMPANION. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weisner, T.S. (2009). Well being, chaos, and culture: Sustaining a meaningful daily routine. In Evans, G.W. & Wachs, T.D. (Eds.). Chaos and its influence on children’s development: An ecological perspective.

Weisner, T.S. (2008). Well being and sustainability of the daily routine of life. In Gordon Mathews & Carolina Izquerdo, eds. The good life: Well-being in Anthropological perspective. New York: Berghahn Press. Pp. 349 – 380.

Skinner, Debra, & Thomas S. Weisner. 2007. Sociocultural Studies of Families of Children with Intellectual Disabilities. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews 13: 302 – 312

Yoshikawa, H., Weisner, T.S., Kalil, A., Way, N. 2008. Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Research in Developmental Science: Uses and Methodological Choices. Developmental Psychology44(2):344-354.

East, Patricia L., Thomas S. Weisner, & Barbara Reyes. (2006). Youths’ caretaking of their adolescent sisters’ children. Its costs and benefits for youths’ development. Applied Developmental Science, 10:2, 86-95.

Matheson, C., Olson, R., & Weisner, T.S. 2007. A good friend is hard to find: Friendship among adolescents with disabilities. American Journal of Mental Retardation

Weisner, Thomas S., & Lowe, Edward. 2005. Globalization and the Psychological Anthropology of Childhood and Adolescence. In Conerly Casey & Robert Edgerton, eds. A companion to psychological anthropology: modernity and psychocultural change. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, U.K. Pp. 315 – 336.

Bernheimer, Lucinda B., and Thomas S. Weisner. In press, 2007. “Let me just tell you what I do all day…”: The family story at the center of intervention research and practice. Infants & Young Children Issue 20:3, July.

Lowe, E. Weisner, T., Geis, S. & Huston, A. Child Care Instability and the Effort to Sustain a Working Daily Routine: Evidence from the New Hope Ethnographic Study of Low-Income Families. 2005. IN C. Cooper, C. Garcia-Coll, T. Bartko, H. Davis, C. Chatman, Eds. Hills of Gold: Diverse Pathways Through Middle Childhood. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Pp. 121 – 144.

Weisner, Thomas S., Ed. 2005. Discovering successful pathways in children’s development: New methods in the study of childhood and family life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weisner, T.S. 2005. Attachment as a cultural and ecological problem with pluralistic solutions. Human Development 48 (1-2), pp. 89 – 94.

Weisner, T. S., Matheson, C., Coots, J, and Bernheimer, L. 2005. Sustainability of daily routines as a family outcome. In Ashley Maynard and Mary Martini, Eds. The Psychology of Learning in Cultural Context. New York: Kluwer/Plenum. Pp. 41 – 73.

Weisner, T.S., C. Bradley, and P. Kilbride (eds.). 1997. African Families and the Crisis of Social Change. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Bernheimer, L., Weisner, T. S., & Lowe, E. D. (2003). Impacts of children with troubles on working poor families: Experimental and mixed-method evidence. Mental Retardation, 41(6), 403-419.

Lowe, E., & Weisner, T. S. (2004). “You have to push it — who’s gonna raise your kids?”: Situating child care in the daily routines of low-income families. Children and Youth Services Review, 26, 143-171.

Okami, P., Weisner, T. S., and Olmstead, R. (2002). Outcome correlates of parent-child bedsharing: An 18-year longitudinal study. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Vol. 23 (4), pp. 244 – 253.

Weisner, T.S. (2001). The American dependency conflict: Continuities and discontinuities in behavior and values of
countercultural parents and their children. Ethos. 29 (3): 271 – 295

Weisner, T. S. (2001). Anthropological aspects of childhood. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Vol 3 (pp. 1697 – 1701). N. J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes (editors).
Pergamon, Oxford.

Daley, Tamara, & Weisner, Thomas S. (2003). “I Speak a Different Dialect”: Teen Explanatory Models of Difference and Disability. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17 (1): 25 – 48.

Weisner, T.S. (2002). Ecocultural understanding of children’s developmental pathways. Human Development 45 (4): 275-281.

Lieber, Eli, Weisner, Thomas S., & Presley, Matthew. 2003.. EthnoNotes: An Internet-Based Fieldnote Management Tool. Field Methods 15 (4: 405 – 425.

Awards & Grants

President, Society for Psychological Anthropology, 2005 – 2007

Lester Prize, Princeton University, for the Outstanding Book in Industrial Relations & Labor Economics, 2007

Governing Council, Society for Research in Child Development, 2009 – 2015

Board of Directors, ChildFund International 2008 – 2015

Graduate Students

Eleanor Carter (chair)

Megan Mulet

Katie Hale (chair)

Hannah Reiss

Mindy Steinberg

Page Sorensen

Scarlett Eisenhauer


Ph.D., Harvard University (1973)