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Robin Bartram Assistant Professor Department of Sociology Tulane University

Robin Bartram

Assistant Professor

220G Newcomb Hall


PhD, Sociology, Northwestern University, 2018


Urban sociology; legal studies, housing and the built environment; cultural sociology and knowledge; inequality; gender and sexualities; mixed methods.


I study the combinations of housing regulations, material forms, legal imperatives, and interpretations that shape patterns in inequality.

My book, Stacked Decks (University of Chicago Press, expected publication in 2022) draws on a mixed-methods study of building code inspections in Chicago. I demonstrate that urban inequality – how the deck is stacked – motivates people who work for city governments to act in unexpected ways, at times by protecting some of the city’s most precarious residents. Yet bureaucratic, legal, and material aspects of the stacked deck tend to stymie well-intentioned actions, thereby exacerbating the very characteristics of the stacked deck that motivate these actions. I argue that this paradox makes inequality particularly stubborn, but also illuminates paths beyond this impasse.

As a 2021-22 American Bar Foundation/ JPB Foundation Access to Justice Faculty Scholar, I am currently collecting data for my next book project, which uses homeowners in Chicago and New Orleans as a case to investigate whether people’s articulations of injustice shape their ability to access reparative justice. I am conducting interviews with property owners who are dealing with environmental issues related to the location of their homes and homeowners who are at risk of displacement due to the condition of their homes. I am particularly interested in how people articulate responsibility for damage, repair, maintenance, and depreciation, and variations therein along lines of race/ethnicity and gender.

Selected Publications

Robin Bartram. 2021. “Cracks in broken windows: How objects shape professional evaluation.” American Journal of Sociology. 126(4): 759–794.

Robin Bartram* Japonica Brown-Saracino* and Holly Donovan. “Uncertain Sexualities and the Unusual Woman: Museum Depictions of Jane Addams and Emily Dickinson.” Social Problems. Online first * = equal authors

Robin Bartram. 2020. “ The Infidelity of Place: Medical Simulation Labs and Disjunctures in Pedagogical Places.” Sociology of Health and Illness. 42(2): 293-306.

Robin Bartram. 2019. “The cost of code violations: How building codes shape residential sales prices and rents.” Housing Policy Debate. 29(6): 931-946.

Robin Bartram. 2019. “Going Easy and Going After: Building Inspections and the Selective Allocation of Code Violations.” City and Community. 18(2).

Robin Bartram. 2018Emplacing Risks in the City: Class, Politics, Risk and the Built Environment of Women’s Residential Clubs, 1896-1917.” The Journal of Urban History. 44(2): 219–238.

Robin Bartram. 2017. “Housing Historic Role Models and the American Dream: Domestic Rhetoric and Institutional Decision-Making at the Tenement Museum.”Qualitative Sociology. 40(1):1-22.

Robin Bartram. 2016. "Housing and Social and Material Vulnerabilities." Housing, Theory and Society. 33(4): 469-483.