Connecting Country and City: The Multiple Geographies of Real Property Ownership in the US


In this review, we bridge recent studies on the political economy of urban and rural real property ownership, focusing on the US. While there are many parallels and interlinkages between urban and rural phenomena, we note that the field generally produces a different literature for each space: one largely about urban housing and another about rural land. We argue that foregrounding their common legal status as “real property” can help develop new and important analyses that unravel the urban/rural binary. Such an approach suggests, for instance, that gentrification and amenity migration are simply urban and rural manifestations of similar underlying dynamics. This awareness also helps enable the search for institutions that connect country and city, such as investors that target real property across multiple geographies. Thus, we broadly outline the points of overlap and divergence between studies of urban and rural real property ownership in order to open up space for more comparative and relational analyses. Finally, we conclude by suggesting two sets of literature that offer resources for unraveling the urban/rural binary: the work of Doreen Massey and Indigenous geographies.

Geography Compass, forthcoming