Bringing to the fore a wealth of original research, A Detroit Story: Urban Decline and the Rise of Property Informality (University of California Press, 2021) examines how the informal reclamation of abandoned property has been shaping Detroit for decades. Dr. Claire Herbert, Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Oregon lived in the city for almost five years to get a ground-view sense of how this process molds urban areas. She participated in community meetings and tax foreclosure protests, interviewed various groups, followed scrappers through abandoned buildings, and visited squatted houses and gardens. Herbert found that new residents with more privilege often have their back-to-the-earth practices formalized by local policies, whereas longtime, more disempowered residents, usually representing communities of color, have their practices labeled as illegal and illegitimate. She teases out how these divergent treatments reproduce long-standing inequalities in race, class, and property ownership.
Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is a Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. His most recent research, “The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant“, was published in Gender Issues Journal. He researches culture, social identity, and collective representation as it is presented in everyday social interactions. You can learn more about him on his website, Google Scholar, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University.