Robin Bartram

Scholarly Retreats
Type of work

Robin Bartram is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tulane University. Bartram’s research focuses on cities, regulations, housing, and inequality.  While in residence she worked on a book manuscript, Cities of Stacked Decks: Code Enforcement, Inequality, and Frontline Justice which is under advanced contract with University of Chicago Press. Based on an ethnographic and quantitative analysis of building code enforcement in Chicago, Bartram uses this case to investigate how individual decisions of city workers amass to both contest and reproduce racial and economic inequality in the city. The book presents a rigorous mixed-methods analysis of the building inspectors who respond to complaints about housing conditions in Chicago. It reveals surprising patterns in the judgement calls inspectors make when deciding who to cite for building code violations, illuminating cracks in what is often depicted as a unified political and economic urban machine. Bartram argues that individuals make judgement calls according to their perceptions of how the deck is stacked.

“I came to A Studio in the Woods to work on my book manuscript. When I arrived, I had drafts of most chapters and a lot of work ahead of me. I left with a near complete manuscript and the feeling I had written a book!” – Robin Bartram