Book Review: Desmond, Matthew. (2016). Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. New York: Crown Publishers
Critical planning. A journal of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning
Exploitation. Now, there's a word that has been scrubbed out of the poverty debate," writes the Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond in his bestselling ethnography of eviction in Milwaukee. "It is a word that speaks to the fact that poverty is not just a product of low incomes. It is also a product of extractive markets" (Desmond 2016: 305). Desmond's Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a deeply important contribution to urban poverty scholarship and ethnographic methodology-its
... ic methodology-its engrossing style concealing the depth of its research that included the study of court and city documents, two representative surveys, and Desmond's "relational ethnography" (Desmond 2014). The praise for Desmond's timely book is appropriately widespread; rather than reiterate that praise here, this review interrogates the contributions and limitations of Desmond's characterization of evictions as symptomatic of exploitative markets-what form of exploitation and what kind of markets does Desmond conceive of, and how does this inform his advocacy for a universal housing voucher program?