Elizabeth Korver-GlennDec 15, 2021
Housing Markets and Segregation in 21st Century Urban America
Oxford University Press, USA 2021
Elizabeth Korver-Glenn's book Race Brokers: Housing Markets and Segregation in 21st Century Urban America (Oxford UP, 2021) examines how housing market professionals-including housing developers, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and appraisers-construct 21st century urban housing markets in ways that contribute to or undermine racial segregation.
Drawing on extensive ethnographic and interview data collected in Houston, Texas, Race Brokers shows that housing market professionals play a key role in connecting people-or refusing to connect people-to housing resources and opportunities. They make these brokering decisions through reference to racist or anti-racist ideas. Typically, housing market professionals draw from racist ideas that rank-order people and neighborhoods according to their perceived economic and cultural housing market value, entwining racism with their housing market activities and interactions. Racialized housing market routines encourage this entwinement by naturalizing racism as a professional tool. Race Brokers tracks how professionals broker racism across the housing exchange process-from the home's construction, to real estate brokerage, mortgage lending, home appraisals, and the home sale closing. In doing so, it shows that professionals make housing exchange a racialized process that contributes to neighborhood inequality and racial segregation. However, in contrast to the racialized status-quo, a small number of housing market professionals draw on anti-racist ideas and strategies to extend equal opportunities to individuals and neighborhoods, de-naturalizing housing market racism. Race Brokers highlights the imperative to interrupt the racism that pervades housing market professionals' work, dismantle the racialized routines that underwrite such racism, and cultivate a truly fair housing market.
Richard E. Ocejo is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY).