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Robin Bartram

Assistant Professor, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, University of Chicago
Chapter Member: Chicagoland SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Robin

Bartram specializes in urban studies, housing, inequality, studies of urban regulation and legislation.  Her current research concentrates on the selective allocation of building code violations and the consequences vis-à-vis urban inequality. 

In the News

Opinion: "Illinois Needs a Different Kind of Assistance for Homeowners: Home Repairs," Robin Bartram, Chicago Tribune, February 1, 2023.
Opinion: "Grenfell’s Problem Wasn’t Just Lax Regulation," Robin Bartram, CityLab, June 19, 2018.
Opinion: "How Historic Role Models Leave No Room for Structural Inequality at the Tenement Museum," Robin Bartram, Work in Progress: Sociology on the Economy, Work and Inequality, May 2, 2017.


"The Cost of Code Violations: How Building Codes Shape Residential Sales Prices and Rents" Housing Policy Debate 29, no. 6 (2019): 931-946.

Presents statistical analyses of building code violations data and housing market data in Chicago. Suggests that code violations reinforce the divide between wealthy and poor homeowners and exacerbate the existing lack of affordable housing options for renters.

"Going Easy and Going After: Building Inspections and the Selective Allocation of Code Violations" City and Community 18, no. 2 (2019): 594-617.

Discusses how public and private actors reproduce economic and racial inequality, by protecting the values of lucrative real estate.

"Housing Historic Role Models and the American Dream: Domestic Rhetoric and Institutional Decision-Making at the Tenement Museum" Qualitative Sociology 40, no. 1 (2017): 1-22.

Compares institutional archives to observations of tours in order to examine how a museum dedicated to depicting tenements in effect obscures the institutional practices that necessitated tenement housing.

"Housing and Social and Material Vulnerabilities" Housing, Theory and Society 33, no. 4 (2016): 469-483.

Elaborates on issues around the materiality of housing and inequality and outlines a new research agenda. Discusses using the idea of social and material vulnerabilities to stress the need to always account for how material and social characteristics relate in myriad ways.

"Housing and Social and Material Vulnerabilities" Housing, Theory and Society 33, no. 4 (2016): 469-483.

Calls for attention to the myriad ways that render some people and certain housing types more vulnerable to state intervention (both punitive and subsidiary) than others.