The Eviction State: Housing, Law, and Court Development in Cook County, Illinois

Shai Karp, Northwestern University

Over the past decade, eviction has received substantial scholarly attention as a major source of housing insecurity. Missing in these studies is historical-institutional consideration of eviction. I ask broadly, how has the American state shaped the social problem of eviction? How has eviction itself built the American state? The state construes eviction as a specifically legal process, and courts manage the adjudication of eviction disputes while offering legitimacy to eviction actions. The courts that handle eviction cases are typically either local courts of general jurisdiction or specialized courts which handle housing conflicts. In this paper, I examine the institutional development of legal venues for eviction conflicts through a case study of Cook County’s eviction court (one of the oldest specialized housing courts in the US). I pay specific attention to institutional practices that shaped landlords’ and tenants’ experiences of eviction, as well as popular resistance to evictions.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 48. Governing the City