Jessica Trounstine: Segregation by Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American Cities


Monday, February 12, 2018, 12:15pm to 1:30pm


Land Hall (Belfer 400)

Jessica Trounstine, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, Merced.

Jessica TrounstineJessica Trounstine will present several pieces from her next book, Segregation by Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American Cities, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.


Segregation by Design draws on more than 100 years of quantitative and qualitative data from thousands of American cities to explore how local governments generate race and class segregation.

Starting in the early 20th century, cities have used their power of land use control to determine the location and availability of housing, amenities (such as parks), and undesirable land uses (such as garbage dumps). The result has been segregation – first within cities and more recently between them.

Documenting changing patterns of segregation and their political mechanisms, Trounstine argues that city governments have pursued these policies to enhance the wealth and resources of white property owners at the expense of people of color and the poor.

Contrary to leading theories of urban politics, local democracy has not functioned to represent all residents. The result is unequal access to fundamental local services—from schools, to safe neighborhoods, to clean water.


About the speaker

Jessica Trounstine studies American politics with a focus on sub-national politics, primarily concentrating on large cities. Her work studies the process and quality of representation.

She is particularly interested in how political institutions enhance or limit the ability of residents to achieve responsive government. Trounstine takes a mixed method approach to her scholarship including using historical analysis, qualitative data and quantitative methods.

She is the author of Political Monopolies in American Cities: The Rise and Fall of Bosses and Reformers (University of Chicago Press, 2008), winner of the American Political Science Association's award for Best Book in Urban Politics published in 2008. 

Trounstine received the Clarence Stone Scholar Award in 2010, awarded by APSA's Urban Politics Section to recognize early career scholars who are making a significant contribution to the study of urban politics.

See also: Spring 2018