Hip-Hop and Housing: Revisiting Culture, Urban Space, Power, and Law

65 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2012

See all articles by Lisa T. Alexander

Lisa T. Alexander

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: February 23, 2012


U.S. housing law is finally receiving its due attention. Scholars and practitioners are focused primarily on the subprime mortgage and foreclosure crises. Yet the current recession has also resurrected the debate about the efficacy of place-based lawmaking. Place-based laws direct economic resources to low-income neighborhoods to help existing residents remain in place and to improve those areas. Law-and-economists and staunch integrationists attack place-based lawmaking on economic and social grounds. This Article examines the efficacy of place-based lawmaking through the underutilized prism of culture. Using a sociolegal approach, it develops a theory of cultural collective efficacy as a justification for place-based lawmaking. Cultural collective efficacy describes positive social networks that inner-city residents develop through participation in musical, artistic, and other neighborhood-based cultural endeavors. This Article analyzes two examples of cultural collective efficacy: the early development of hip-hop in the Bronx and community murals developed by Mexican immigrants in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. These examples show that cultural collective efficacy can help inner-city residents mitigate the negative effects of living in a poor and segregated community and obtain more concrete benefits from urban revitalization in their communities. Cultural collective efficacy also provides a framework to examine important microdynamics in the inner-city that scholars and policymakers have ignored. Lastly, this Article devises new combinations of place-based laws that might protect cultural collective efficacy, such as: (1) historic districts with affordable housing protections secured through transferable development rights, (2) foreclosure prevention strategies, (3) techniques to mitigate eminent domain abuse, and (4) reinterpretations of the Fair Housing Act's "affirmatively furthering" fair housing mandate. These examples of place-based lawmaking may more effectively promote equitable development and advance distributive justice in U.S. housing law and policy.

Keywords: Hip-Hop, Housing, Culture, Urban Revitalization, Social Capital, Social Networks, Collective Efficacy, People vs. Place, Law & Economics, Vouchers, Predatory Private Equity, Integration, Fair Housing, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, Historic Preservation, Foreclosure Prevention, Transferable

JEL Classification: K2, K19, R5, I3, Z1

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lisa T., Hip-Hop and Housing: Revisiting Culture, Urban Space, Power, and Law (February 23, 2012). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 63, p. 803, 2012; Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1191. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2009914

Lisa T. Alexander (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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