Urban sociology, cultural sociology and knowledge, inequality, legal studies, gender and sexualities.
I study the combinations of housing regulations, material forms, legal imperatives, and interpretations that shape patterns in inequality.
My book, Cities of Stacked Decks: Code Enforcement, Inequality, and Frontline Justice (under advanced contract with University of Chicago Press), draws on two years of ethnographic observations of building inspections in action, neighborhood ethnography, courtroom observations, and statistical analysis. The book argues that interpretations of urban inequality – how the deck is stacked – can motivate city officials to act in unexpected ways. Yet those same systems of inequality stymie well-intentioned efforts to intervene.
Other research projects addressing built environments and inequality include a study of a housing museum’s reliance on middle-class white domesticity and hardworking immigrants, and an archival project on the architectural mechanisms through which women’s residential clubs policed their residents and reproduced stratified class and gender relations in turn of the 20th century Chicago.
With graduate and undergraduate assistants, I am currently collecting data on grants for home repairs in New Orleans and Chicago.
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. 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.