Making markets on the margins: Housing finance agencies and the racial politics of credit expansion

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Widespread reliance on credit increasingly defines realities of economic citizenship in American society. This article theorizes the racial politics of credit expansion. It examines the federal initiative in the 1960s and’70s to broaden financial access for poor renters in communities of color, which unintentionally sparked the rise of new state-level credit agencies. Drawing on historical evidence, much of it never used before, the author’s findings reveal the contentious politics at the heart of this policy shift. Doing so highlights the constitutive whiteness of credit and also illuminates how the project of expanding credit to marginalized groups tests the categorical seams of markets in the public imagination: Such initiatives fuel racial contestation around taken for- granted market rules, which draws governing officials toward increasingly speculative and convoluted financial instruments as a means of rule-bending subversion. Ultimately, this article sheds much-needed light on, and encourages further research into, the racial stratification of the state’s market-making power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-1029
Number of pages56
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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