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How do local governments resist internal pressure for social change? This study explores this question by examining the role of redistricting. Using digitized ward maps from Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Louis from the 1800s to the present, this study applied mixed methods to systematically explore and understand the movement of districts over time. We discovered that local governments used redistricting for racially and economically motivated social control. Specifically, findings illuminated four practices aimed at regulating or resisting elected officials advocating for racial justice or equity: 1) suppressive redistricting, 2) disciplinary redistricting, 3) remunerative redistricting, and 4) transactional redistricting. These findings advance theories of racialized space and the racialized state by uncovering additional ways that governments regulate or suppress movements for racial equity or justice from within.
Professor Robert Vargas is a sociologist who studies the political-economic forces shaping neighborhood conditions and local government responses to problems. His multi award-winning book "Wounded City: Violent Turf Wars in a Chicago Barrio" showed how ward redistricting shaped block-level violence in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. He has also published in a variety of journals such as Social Problems, Criminology, and the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. Professor Vargas has won numerous awards such as the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology, and the David Heoft Award for Newly Tenured Faculty at the University of Chicago. His research has been featured in numerous media outlets such as NBC News, Telemundo, Univision, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, and National Public Radio.
Moderated by Joshua Sadvari
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