30% discount + Conclusion of the Road to Resegregation

 While I hope that many of you are able to purchase the full book, I feel like it is important to make the ideas for moving forward publicly available. If you click here, it will take you to a .pdf of the conclusion. I very much welcome comments, critiques or ideas.
You can get the full text for 30% off here by entering source code 17M6662 at checkout!


Researching Segregation / Reporting Segregation: Book Launch Nov. 28 UC Berkeley

California / Oregon Book Tour

I will be speaking about the Road to Resegregation at the following public events in late 2018 and early 2019. I will continue to update this page as more events come online.
  • November 28th. Launch event. 'Researching Segregation / Reporting Segregation'. A conversation with Devin Katayama and Sandhya Dirks from KQED, creators of the American Suburb podcastRachel Brahinsky, Assistant Professor and Director of Urban and Public Affairs, University of San Francisco, former reporter for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and myself. Moderated by Sasha Khokha of KQED's California Report, and chaired by DCRP's Prof. Karen Frick. Reception to follow. Free, RSVP required. Location: Department of City & Regional Planning, Wurster Hall, UC Berkeley. 6pm-7:30 (program), 7:30-8:30 (reception)
  • November 29th. SPUR San Francisco654 Mission Street, San Francisco12:30 p.m. Free for SPUR members, $10 for non-members. Click on the link for more information.
  • December 4th. San Jose State University, 12:30-1:30 pm. Student Union, room 2B. Lunch provided.
  • December 5th. Stanford University. 1:30-3:00pm. This talk is part of the 2018 Human Cities Expo. Dr. Carol Lynn McKibben of Stanford's Urban Studies Program will serve as discussant.
  • January 7th. Portland State University. Noon to 1:30pm. Parsons Gallery (URBN 212)
    506 SW Mill Street, Portland, OR  97201. Sponsored by the Center for Urban Studies and the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning.
  • January 11th. University of California, Santa Barbara. Hosted by the Blum Center for Global Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development.
  • January 23rd. Cal Poly-Pomona, Department of City & Regional Planning. 1:00pm-2:00pm, Room 7-212. Moderated and organized by Dr. Alvaro Huerta, and co-sponsored by URBAN-Los Angeles & Inland Empire.
  • January 24th. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Details TBA, moved from December 13th.
    I will also be doing a series of informal meetings with classes, organizations and other groups, and am open to joining any discussion which will have me. Contact me via email (a.schafran at leeds.ac.uk) to arrange something. I am generally available in Northern California between November 29th and January 3rd.

    The Road to Resegregation is Out!

    I'm thrilled to announce that The Road to Resegregation: Northern California and the Failure of Politics, is out now from UC Press. It should be in bookstores in the Bay Area by the end of October, and is available online in both electronic and paper versions.

    I will be doing a book launch and tour through California between Thanksgiving and the end of January. More details will posted here, but I welcome inquiries about speaking engagements, brown bag meetings or any other change to discuss the book in person whilst I am in California. Contact me at: a.schafran [at] leeds.ac.uk.

    From the publisher's description:

    How could Northern California, the wealthiest and most politically progressive region in the United States, become one of the earliest epicenters of the foreclosure crisis? How could this region continuously reproduce racial poverty and reinvent segregation in old farm towns one hundred miles from the urban core?

    This is the story of the suburbanization of poverty, the failures of regional planning, urban sprawl, NIMBYism, and political fragmentation between middle class white environmentalists and communities of color. As Alex Schafran shows, the responsibility for this newly segregated geography lies in institutions from across the region, state, and political spectrum, even as the Bay Area has never managed to build common purpose around the making and remaking of its communities, cities, and towns. Schafran closes the book by presenting paths toward a new politics of planning and development that weave scattered fragments into a more equitable and functional whole.

    Urbanization as an Economic Sector

    Replacing the services sector and three-sector theory: Urbanization and control as economic sectors

    Published together with colleagues Conor McDonald, Ernesto Lopez Morales, Nihan Akyelken
    and Michele Acuto, this long-simmering article in Regional Studies is both a fresh look at the economy as a whole, and urbanization as an economic activity. Below is the abstract. I am very interested in building partnerships for further work in this area, so don't hesitate to contact me for a copy of if you are interested in discussing the core idea.


    Developed during the Second World War, ‘three-sector theory’ popularized the notion of the ‘services’ sector. It has quietly underpinned understandings of economic structure ever since. The limitations and influence of this basic breakdown have led to many critiques and extensions, but no replacements. Inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s The Urban Revolution (1968), we develop a four-sector model that replaces services with sectors focused on urbanization and control. We argue that this
    model is a better reflection of material economic life, and a more useful way of approaching the 21st-century economy. It also offers scholars of urbanization and regional development a creative new way of seeing urbanization.

    The Shithole Project

    I am thrilled that some research done with Alice Butler, a doctoral student working with me at Leeds, has been published in the Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, and in condensed form in The Conversation.

    The research looks into what people in the UK mean when they call a place a "shithole". The article is part of my longstanding interest in how and why and to what end we say mean things about places. In this case, it turns out that gender really matters.

    This paper investigates what people mean when they engage in the discourse of denigration. Building on existing literature on territorial stigmatisation that either focuses on macro‐scale uses and effects of territorial stigmatisation or micro‐scale ethnographic studies of effects, we develop a novel approach that captures the diverse voices that engage in the discourse of denigration by tracing the use of the word and hashtag “shithole” on the social media platform Twitter in order to examine who is engaged in the stigmatising discourse, the types of place that are stigmatised and the responses to stigmatised places. Using a robust data set, we highlight two key findings. First, the majority of tweets were aimed at places where the tweeter was not from, a form of othering consistent with how territories are stigmatised by those in positions of power such as policymakers, politicians and journalists. Second, we note that an important and gendered minority of tweets can be characterised by a “cry for help” and powerlessness, where the stigma is aimed at their own places. We offer an interpretive lens through which to understand and frame these minoritarian voices by engaging with theories of abjection that allow us to see how minoritarian voices relate to place.

    Appearance on KQED's Forum

    I was thrilled to be invited to appear on KQED's Forum alongside KQED journalist's Sandhya Dirks and Devin Katayama to discuss their new podcast on focused on Antioch and the changing suburbs of the Bay Area. While it is always a pleasure to be able to talk about one's work, and the work of dedicated journalists, it is even a greater pleasure to do so on the call-in show you grew up listening two. Michael Krasny is a legend.

    Race, France and the neuf-trois

    The first piece in a series of collaborations with French scholar Yohann Lemoige and American sociologist Greg Smithsimon was published in Herodote, the French journal of geopolitics published by the Institut Français de Géopolitique. The article, entitled 'Ni la race ni le 9-3 ne sont ce que nous croyons qu’ils son' (Neither race nor the 9-3 are what you think they are') looks at how supposedly American ways of seeing race both can be used and are being used to understand the Department of Seine Saint Denis outside of Paris and the issue of race in France more generally. Stay tuned for forthcoming work from Yohann and I rethinking the relationship between the suburbs and the banlieue, and a piece which examines the persistance of white imagineries of a changing French suburbia.

    Rethinking Housing Tenure

    A new piece that is the start of a new stream of work on housing tenure. Written with colleagues Jake Wegmann and Deirdre Pfeiffer, we work to break what we call the double impasse on housing tenure - the old fight between renting and owning, and the long focus of many on alternative tenures as the sole answer. Instead, we strive to think how to protect 100% of housing tenures, reflecting how in a diverse US diverse tenures will always be the norm. We do some rethinking about how tenure is a two-dimensional issue, with the degree to which you control your housing and the degree to which you have an equity stake not necessarily working along a one dimensional line.

    The emerging geography of rental-backed securitization

    I am happy to report that research conducted on the emerging trend of rental backed securitization has been published by the SF Federal Reserve Bank. The project, with Desiree Fields and a former undergrad of mine, Rajkumar Kohli, is the first published work which attempt to map and understand where this new phenomenon is occurring. I am particularly proud of this piece because it is an example of teaching-oriented research, as this project was done as part of a directed research project. Raj gets much of the credit for this piece, as it was he who developed the means of combing bond reports to build a dataset.

    The future of the urban academy

    I've recently started publishing long-simmering ideas about how the urban university can be transformed to become a more powerful actor in changing cities and regions. By the urban university I do not mean the university in the city, but rather the parts of the university that study and teach about all aspects of urbanism, urbanization, urban systems and urban life, broadly defined. This is part of my general broad engagement with urbanization writ large, some of which is evident in my 23 steps piece.

    An academic version of my urban university argument (The Future of the Urban Academy) can be found in City in a piece published in conversation with David Madden. A newer, shorter and accessible version was published on the Carbegie Council's new Policy Interventions site under the headline, Can the University Help Make Better Cities?

    The general themes of this work are getting us to rethink the basic political processes that decide what gets build where, issues of long term planning and media coverage of urbanization, and recognize that the institutions we have that currently are in charge of these functions are modern inventions that can and should be changed. The university has a key role to play, far beyond what we currently imagine. I discuss this in some form in a recent op-ed on political compromise in the Bay Area. We need to think bigger.

    The Strange Case of the Bay Area

    Walker R, Schafran A, 2014, "The strange case of the Bay Area" Environment and Planning A advance online publication, doi:10.1068/a46277

    A long-brewing collaboration with one of my mentors, Richard Walker, which attempts to weave together the various strands of the Bay Area.

    Abstract. The San Francisco Bay Area is hard to get one’s head around and is frequently misunderstood. It is immense, decentered, sprawling, autotopic, multiracial, divided, and more—a crucible of the modern suburban and exurban metropolis. It is distinctive in several regards, but illuminating of the dynamics behind metropolitan geography. Indeed, the Bay Area has been integral to the production of modern American suburbia and its urban system embodies many of the contradictions of the contemporary moment.

    Keywords: cities, suburban, metropolitan, San Francisco, Bay Area, Silicon Valley, California, inequality