Date of Degree
Earth & Environmental Sciences
American Studies | Geography
assemblage theory; ethnography; housing; phenomenology; urban geography
This research examines the experiences novice homebuyers in New York City and Oakland, CA have during the home search and decision-making processes. Using a mixed-method approach that combines ethnography with critical discourse analysis and non-representational theory, this work examines the ideology of homeownership as well as the tensions that stem from its emotional affordances. It addresses a lacuna in the housing literature regarding the turbulent everyday emotional tensions that buyers confront as they navigate the highly professionalized real estate industry. Homeownership is lauded for being a relatively low-risk tool for highly leveraged investment; however, using data drawn from a series of interviews conducted with participants over months and years, I demonstrate that first-time prospective homebuyers' struggles to understand their feelings about buying often frustrates their abilities to make confident and clear housing decisions. Each chapter reflects on a different facet of the homebuying process, and taken as a whole the dissertation provides a kaleidoscopic view of what I call the homebuyer assemblage. In light of the recent turbulence in the national housing market, I argue that neglecting to attend to the intersection of financial logic, emotion, and social relations for prospective homebuyers leads to oversights in areas where housing studies must be developed.
Boatright, Stephen, "American Dreamer: First-Time Homeownership and the Affective Geographies of Dwelling" (2015). CUNY Academic Works.