Date of Award

12-16-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Daniel Pasciuti

Second Advisor

Amy Spring

Third Advisor

Deirdre Oakley

Abstract

It is often taken for granted that home ownership provides an opportunity for economic mobility and that promoting ownership helps to reduce wealth inequality. These hegemonic assumptions are apparent in the narrative of the American Dream which says that home ownership is a means to spiritual and material enrichment. A pervasive narrative that connects private property to freedom and opportunity and rests on the implicit belief in American exceptionalism. This study counters this fictive by using data from the last major housing crisis. I analyze patterns of housing values to assess whether home ownership is a leveling factor or if it serves to reinforce racial and geographic inequality and contributes to the understanding of how the accumulation of housing-based wealth is contingent on who the owner is and the context of where the property is located. I argue that homeownership intensifies inequality; it does not reduce it. Finally, I consider the role of crises in both maintaining and restructuring capitalism to increase profitability through the creation of new markets.

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