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At the Boundaries of Homeownership
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Book description

In the United States, homeownership is synonymous with economic security and middle-class status. It has played this role in American life for almost a century, and as a result, homeownership's centrality to Americans' economic lives has come to seem natural and inevitable. But this state of affairs did not develop spontaneously or inexorably. On the contrary, it was the product of federal government policies, established during the 1930s and developed over the course of the twentieth century. At the Boundaries of Homeownership traces how the government's role in this became submerged from public view and how several groups who were locked out of homeownership came to recognize and reveal the role of the government. Through organizing and activism, these boundary groups transformed laws and private practices governing determinations of credit-worthiness. This book describes the important policy consequences of their achievements and the implications for how we understand American statebuilding.


‘At the Boundaries of Homeownership is a major contribution to our understanding not just of America's divided welfare state, but of American politics and political development more broadly. Compellingly written, deeply researched, and clearly organized, Chloe N. Thurston's important new book will appeal to scholars in sociology, history, public policy, and law as well as political science.'

Jacob S. Hacker - Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science and Director, Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, Connecticut

‘Chloe N. Thurston's At the Boundaries of Homeownership offers an incisive analysis of the shifting politics of homeownership in American society over the course of the twentieth century. Thurston examines citizen efforts to expand access to homeownership as a key site for what she calls ‘boundary politics': active contestation that occurs around the state's (explicit or implicit) construction of boundaries through policies that define access to economic and social resources. Against a now expansive literature on the ‘hidden welfare state', which suggests that the delegated nature of social policy in the United States is inherently depoliticizing, Thurston argues that citizen groups who find themselves on the boundary of state policies have often discovered ways to challenge their exclusion from access to resources. Meticulously researched and full of novel insights, Thurston's book is a must read for scholars of housing, credit, social policy, and the welfare state.'

Greta Krippner - University of Michigan

‘In At the Boundaries of Homeownership political scientist Chloe N. Thurston makes an outstanding contribution to the study of racial, income and gender inequality and the federal government. Meticulously using original archival primary research and writing in an elegant narrative, Thurston demonstrates how the federal government's central role in homeownership from the 1930s injected layers of discrimination into the housing and mortgage markets. She provides powerful case studies of boundary groups challenging access to federal programs on grounds of racial, gender and income discrimination. Superbly written and deploying it's learning with a light touch, At the Boundaries of Homeownership is a work of great significance to scholars of the American state, social inequality and politics. I enthusiastically recommend the book.'

Desmond King - University of Oxford

‘At the Boundaries of Home Ownership is a richly documented and beautifully written book about groups whose activities have been largely ignored in the study of American politics - organizations representing African Americans, women, and low-income people subject to discriminatory lending practices in housing markets. Shining a light on the mobilization of these groups offers a fresh perspective on the politics shaping the mixed public-private system of welfare provision in the US. Thurston also explores the important yet still understudied area of private homeownership policies that have tremendous implications for economic well being and patterns of stratification in US society. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the American welfare state, social movements, and inequalities rooted in class, race, or gender.'

Kimberly Morgan - George Washington University, Washington DC

'Policy historians, scholars of American political development, and students of social change will find much to engage in this important book.'

Eric Fure-Slocum Source: Journal of American History

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  • 1 - Politics, Markets, and Boundaries
    pp 1-32


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