Woman standing in black smiling

Robin Bartram, PhD

Assistant Professor

969 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Office Location: E007

Areas of Expertise
Policy Implementation
Urban Inequality
UChicago Affiliations
Department of Sociology
Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
Other Affiliations

Committee on Environment

Geography and Urbanization

The University of Chicago Affiliated Scholar

American Bar Foundation

I study housing, with a focus on its physical and environmental aspects.

In my first book, Stacked Decks: Building Inspectors and the Reproduction of Urban Inequality, I show how building code inspectors in Chicago assess built environments to make inferences about their inhabitants. These assessments often cause them to act in unexpected ways, by protecting some of the city’s most precarious residents. The fact that urban inequality prevails in spite of these actions reveals the contours of persistent inequality.

My next book project uses interviews with homeowners, landlords, and city officials in Chicago and New Orleans to investigate how cities plan for aging housing stock, centering questions of health equity and environmental justice. Climate change presents moments of crisis and material rupture to buildings. By contrast, my research focuses on the slow, mundane process of dilapidation of built environments and its relationship to housing precarity. The book argues that the current legal and policy foci of housing justice (e.g., on evictions and on access to home ownership) are not enough to deal with the overlapping crises of climate crises, aging populations, crumbling housing stock, and legacies of environmental racism.

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

Golio, AJ, Robin Bartram, and LaToya Tufts. “Punishing People Through Property: Strategic Task Force Inspections at the Nexus of Criminal and Civil Legal Systems” Punishment & Society 

Bartram, Robin. “Property Markers and the Hassle of Leniency: Building Code Enforcement in the Courtroom.” Law and Social Inquiry 

Bartram, Robin. 2023. “Routine Dilapidation: How Homeownership Creates Environmental Injustice.” City & Community 22(4):266–285. 

Bartram, Robin. 2023. “Making Babies Pay Rent: Race suicide, and the Subsidization of Whiteness through Rental Housing.” Qualitative Sociology 46(1):1-20 

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

Bartram, Robin^ 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 

Bartram, Robin. 2019. “The Cost of Code Violations: How Building Codes Shape Residential Sales Prices and Rents.” Housing Policy Debate 29(6): 931-946 

Bartram, Robin. 2019. “Going Easy and Going After: Building Inspections and the Selective Allocation of Code Violations.” City and Community 18(2): 594-617. 

Bartram, Robin. 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. 

Bartram, Robin. 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. 

Bartram, Robin. 2016. “Housing and Social and Material Vulnerabilities.” Housing, Theory and Society 33(4): 469-483.  

Robin Bartram is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. She is also currently an Affiliated Scholar with the American Bar Foundation.

Prior to her arrival at the Crown Family School, professor Bartram was an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tulane University.

Bartram has a has a PhD and MA in Sociology from Northwestern University and a MA in Sociology from Loyola University, Chicago.