My research focuses broadly on urban processes related to crime, housing, community well-being, and neighborhood change over time. As an early graduate student, I was primarily interested in ecological factors which predict resident perceptions of their neighborhoods, and the consequences of these perceptions for various outcomes. Several publications came out of these interests, as well as other work situated in social disorganization theory or the broader ecological framework.
While working through my graduate studies, I became increasingly interested in the political economy of place perspective as developed in the fields of human geography and urban sociology. In my dissertation, The Political Economy of Place and Crime, I trace the intellectual roots of traditional criminological theories related to space and place, which lie in the ecological theory of the early Chicago School, rational choice frameworks, and environmental psychology, and propose new directions for community criminology grounded in a political economy of place perspective. I argue that the insights culled from political economy work in other social science fields can inform how we interpret extant findings in community criminology, how we understand temporal processes and urban change over time, the kinds of questions we ask, and in particular - the centrality of outside actors to neighborhood processes as captured by local housing and business dynamics.
I argue that the political economy of place perspective empowers us to think about "space" and "place" more broadly to consider how it structures patterns of investment, neighborhood prestige or marginalization over time, and how aspects of place influence crime while also shaping both community and police responses to it. Fundamentally, I believe the political economy perspective enables us to move beyond studying the link between neighborhood conditions and crime to understand neighborhood structure as an ongoing process, produced and reproduced by a complex web of actors.
My dissertation includes two empirical applications of a political economy approach - one which engages with social disorganization theory but argues that aspects of the neighborhood housing stock (which implies linkages to landlords, real estate firms, speculators, planners, and local government) differentially determine the degree of neighborhood instability across neighborhood poverty strata with implications for neighborhood crime. Another chapter explores the spatial scale of racial-ethnic segregation across US cities, arguing that exploitation through local housing practices mediates the association between segregation and crime.
Projects currently underway employ spatial and temporal methods to examine how legal forms of displacement (e.g., evictions, rent control buyouts) are implicated in gentrification processes. A related project examines the differential impact of neighborhood evictions on changes in crime over time by type of eviction. As part of my postdoctoral position, I am working with Dr. Brielle Bryan on projects examining spatial determinants of post-conviction health, and discrimination in rental housing markets among those with felony convictions.