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Working as a real estate agent. Dispositions, matching and the production of market inequalities

Abstract : This dissertation examines the work of real estate professionals (brokers and salespersons) on a local housing market. Drawing on two years of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with real estate agents in a medium city in Arizona, the research highlights how agents’ professional activities contribute to influence transaction outcomes such as pricing, product and neighborhood preferences. Departing from the theoretical framework of market intermediaries, which posits that the exchange of goods is not based upon an automatic price matching between supply and demand, the research explores the formal and informal socialization of agents through a set of norms and rules to behave as market professionals; the use of social relationships to profit-making ends; and the participation of agents in the process of creating symbolic and market value by influencing preferences and prices, generating important implications for social and racial segregation literature Interviews and ethnographic observations serve to analyze the discursive and behavioral aspects of market work, how agents both talk and act on the market to create the conditions for market interactions such as selling and buying a house. The dissertation research investigates first the acquisition of socio-professional dispositions and the ethos of the real estate agent. It objectifies the professional culture in which real estate agents are socialized and the inculcation of professional dispositions; second, it examines the discovery of the client or the relational mechanisms of trust and client capture. It rests on a game of anticipations which must accurately decipher the social and symbolic horizon of clients. Third, the research evidences the matching of supply and demand or the contribution to clients’ preferences, pricing and location of the goods. It analyzes the professional and market practices around the encounters between agents and their clients, and the supply and demand of goods, envisions as social, physical and symbolic products. In observing working practices through multiple interactions, the research sheds light how real estate agents shape access to the territory, inequalities and reproduction mechanisms. At the intersection of cultural, urban and economic sociology, this work sheds light on the dynamics of a market with intermediaries to refine our understanding of housing inequalities.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 1:33:15 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - 10:04:04 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-02513714, version 2


Eliza Benites-Gambirazio. Working as a real estate agent. Dispositions, matching and the production of market inequalities. Sociology. Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle - Paris III, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020PA030012⟩. ⟨tel-02513714v2⟩



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