About

I am a PhD candidate in sociology at Brown University and a Visiting Democracy Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance & Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. In academic work and public-facing writing, I make connections between urban inequalities and the political challenges for democracy that confront societies across the globe. My research asks: Why do state institutions reproduce or reduce inequalities? When and how does democracy transform the organizational resources available to people who aim to exploit or overcome urban inequalities?

My dissertation research has received interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed funding awards at every stage of the project, from preliminary fieldwork proposal to the final writing stages. These include grants and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the Brazilian Studies Association. I have published peer-reviewed articles from my research in leading journals in sociology and urban studies, including Social Forces, Environment & Urbanization, and International Development Planning Review.

My dissertation manuscript, Urban Origins of Democracy and Inequality, is a comparative-historical investigation of urban institutions governing public goods — housing, sanitation and transportation — in the largest cities in two of the most unequal countries on earth: São Paulo in Brazil and Johannesburg in South Africa. This work is based on a combined 16 months of fieldwork in both cities, including 240 interviews, hundreds of archival documents, and spatial analysis of multiple waves of census data. Related work analyzes the social causes of democratic deepening, the politics of public housing and infrastructure policies, and the relationship between urban inequalities and the rise of an “authoritarian style” in politics.

I can be reached by email at benjamin_bradlow [at] brown [dot] edu and on Twitter at @bhbradlow.