Cornell University

Housing pathways, elective belonging, and family ties in middle class Chileans' housing choices by Joel Stillerman, LASP Seminar Series

Monday, September 11, 2017 at 12:15pm to 1:10pm

Uris Hall, 153 , 109 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853

Much of the research on culture and stratification has focused on cultural consumption. In contrast, this paper addresses the housing field, an important arena for the reproduction of social inequality. Models of housing choice often assume individuals are rational actors functioning in free markets. In contrast, scholars combining the concept of “housing pathways” with a Bourdieusian framework demonstrate that the state shapes housing markets, and families deploy different forms of capital to access housing. Additionally, scholars use the concept of “elective belonging” to understand middle class housing tastes and identities. This analysis of 68 interviews with 77 middle class adults in Santiago, Chile, finds that middle class families’ differential access to family wealth and state subsidies sorts them into distinct niches in the housing market. Further, middle class families that are richest in cultural capital alternatively choose neighborhoods to display aesthetic taste, accumulate social capital, or reproduce cultural capital through children’s education. Some of these patterns reflect the concept of elective belonging while others illustrate traditional strategies of social reproduction. For Chile’s middle classes, extended family is an important source of housing wealth and a key influence on housing decisions.

Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Latino Studies Program, Anthropology, Architecture, Sociology, City and Regional Planning, Development Sociology, Latin American Studies Program (LASP)



Contact Name

William Phelan

Contact Phone

(607) 255-1468


Joel Stillerman

Speaker Affiliation

Sociology, Grand Valley State University

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair Accessible (new ramp at building's front entrance)

Open To

Open to the Public

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