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Robin Bartram, Department of Sociology Tulane University School of Liberal Arts

Robin Bartram

220G Newcomb Hall


PhD, Sociology, Northwestern University, 2018


Urban sociology, environmental justice, legal studies, occupations and organizations, housing, cultural sociology, inequality, race and gender, mixed methods.


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

My first book, Stacked Decks, 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, which investigates how cities prepare for the mundane decay of aging housing stock in a time of increased environmental and economic precarity. I am particularly interested in the racialized and gendered articulations of responsibility for damage, repair, maintenance, and depreciation.

Selected Publications

Robin Bartram. 2022. Stacked Decks: Building Inspectors and the Reproduction of Urban Inequality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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

Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, Robin Bartram, and Max Besbris. 2021. “The Sociology of Housing Market Intermediaries,” SocArXiv.

Robin Bartram* Japonica Brown-Saracino* and Holly Donovan. 2021. "Uncertain Sexualities and the Unusual Woman: Museum Depictions of Jane Addams and Emily Dickinson.” Social Problems. 68 (1): 168–184. * = 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): 594-617.

  • Winner, ASA Community and Urban Sociology Section Student Paper Award 2018

Robin Bartram. 2018. “Emplacing 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.