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The Geography of Stigma: Experimental Methods to Identify the Penalty of Place

  • Max BesbrisEmail author
  • Jacob William Faber
  • Peter Rich
  • Patrick Sharkey
Chapter
Part of the Methodos Series book series (METH, volume 14)

Abstract

The United States remains a spatially segregated nation by many measures including race, income, wealth, political views, education , and immigration status. Scholars have, for many years, grappled with questions stemming from spatial inequality and have come to recognize the neighborhood in which an individual lives as a socially organizing unit of space, predictive of many individual-level outcomes. The mechanisms that underlie the relationship between neighborhoods and outcomes for residents, however, remain relatively underexplored. In this chapter, we show how the use of audits and field experiments can help uncover one such mechanism—place-based stigma in social interactions. Specifically, we describe the methodology of a previous study (Besbris M, Faber JW, Rich P, Sharkey P, Effect of neighborhood stigma on economic transactions. Proc Nat Acad Sci 112:4994–4998, 2015) that revealed how signaling residence in a poor community of color negatively affected sellers’ ability to attract buyers in a classified marketplace. We focus on the study’s operationalization of neighborhoods and show how future research can use non-individual-level treatment characteristics such as units of space. Doing so helps us better understand the causal relationship between space and individual-level outcomes, as well as better parse the effects of individual-level variables versus non-individual-level variables, which are often conflated in non-experimental research. We close by suggesting the implementation of field experiments in testing for effects at other geographic scales, such as metropolitan area, state, region, country, or continent.

Keywords

Spatial stigma Experimental design Socio-spatial inequality 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Besbris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jacob William Faber
    • 2
  • Peter Rich
    • 3
  • Patrick Sharkey
    • 2
  1. 1.Rice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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