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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, 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, Stacked Decks: Stabs at Justice in the City (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.

Selected Publications

Robin Bartram. “Cracks in broken windows: How objects shape professional evaluation.” American Journal of Sociology. 126(5). Forthcoming. 2021.

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.