Little White HousesHow the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America

Little White HousesHow the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America

Dianne Harris

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816653324

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press


This book adds a new dimension to our understanding of the development of the deep inequalities that have existed (and continue to exist) in the U.S. housing market by looking closely at some material dimensions of everyday life that are so ordinary, so common, and so ubiquitous that they’ve largely escaped analysis. If we already know a great deal about the ways in which institutional structures connected to the economics of housing operated, we have known far less about the dispersed and complex sets of practices that created, reinforced, and established the forms of cultural knowledge that ultimately supported a housing market designed primarily for whites to the exclusion of others. This book studies the politics of representation and the formation of cultural knowledge about ordinary houses and single-family domesticity in the postwar period. Houses, and the media representations of housing in the postwar period helped to create a specific dimension of racialized knowledge, one that connected white identities to rights related to property ownership and to a specifically classed lifestyle. National publications, television programs, professional literature, domestic artifacts, and even the design of houses and their interiors all contributed to a rhetorical field that shaped the organization of knowledge about the social construction of race and the spatial dimensions of inequality in the postwar era, as it continues to do today.