Rena Zito

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Lindner Hall - Arts & Sciences 209C
2035 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244 (336) 278-5235

Brief Biography

Rena Cornell Zito is an assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Elon Unversity. Her research focuses on the social roots of adolescent behavior, with a particular emphasis on family influences on youth law violation and other outcomes. She teaches courses in criminology, family sociology, and quantitative research methods.


Dr. Zito received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University in 2012, where she also received her M.S. in sociology in 2005. Before that, she received her B.A. in sociology and psychology from the University of Rhode Island in 2003.

Courses Taught


Quantitative Research Methods

Gender and Crime

Current Projects

Dr. Zito's research lies at at the intersection of family sociology and criminology, though some of her work is rooted firmly in one area or the other. Her quantitative research uses nationally-representative survey data to explore links between family experiences and social behavior. Some current projects include:

  • Using National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) data to explore links between family structure histories, parental dating, and adolescent problem behaviors
  • Reconceptualizing the power-control theory of delinquency and testing the updated theory using survey data from a middle school sample
  • Using Using National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) data to examine gendered  effects of social participation on spousal education

If students wish to develop quantitative research skills on these or similar topics, they are encouraged to contact Dr. Zito to talk about research opportunities.


Selected journal publications:

Zito, Rena C. Forthcoming. “Family Structure History and Teenage Cohabitation: Instability, Structural Disadvantage, or Transmission?” Journal of Family Issues.

De Coster, Stacy and Rena C. Zito. 2012. “Maternal Roles and Adolescent Depression: Conditions and Processes of Influence.” Sociological Perspectives 56: 1-23.

Parcel, Toby, Mikaela Dufur, and Rena C. Zito. 2010. “Capital at Home and at School: A Review and Synthesis.” Journal of Marriage and Family 72: 828-846.

De Coster, Stacy and Rena Cornell Zito. 2010. “Gender and General Strain Theory: The Gendering of Emotional Experiences and Expressions.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 26: 224-245.

Elon faculty and staff may log in to add more detail to their profile.