A Sociology of Real Estate: Polanyi, Du Bois, and the Relational Study of Commodified Land in a Climate-Changed Future by Max Besbris, John N. Robinson III, and Hillary Angelo (2024)

Screenshot from website.

Annual Review of Sociology


Real estate plays an essential part in various sociological theories of political economy, state capacity, racecraft, stratification, and urbanization. However, since foundational insights about the novelty of commodified, emplaced private property from theorists like Du Bois and Polanyi, these disparate threads have not been tied together into a coherent field of study. Here, we review three areas of recent scholarship relevant to understanding real estate—the political economy of place, property rights, and financialization—in order to draw out key insights from each. Overall, the political-economic and socio-legal aspects of real estate have been well-studied, but contemporary research has been limited by its parochialism. We argue that for a sociology of real estate to move forward, it must take a broader, more relational perspective; must become more international; and must confront the climate crisis—and that Polanyi’s and Du Bois’s contributions can be effectively mobilized toward these ends.

Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Sociology, Volume 50 is July 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.