Phi Kappa Phi Member Named 2015 MacArthur Fellow

Beth Colvin
Sep 29, 2015

Phi Kappa Phi member and fellow Matthew Desmond, an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University, is now a MacArthur Fellow.

“America is unmatched by any developed democracy for the depths and extent of its poverty, but it’s also not inevitable,” ethnographer Desmond says in a video released by the MacArthur Foundation. For his research on eviction, Desmond immersed himself in the issue, moving into a trailer park and then a rooming house in Milwaukee. He found eviction is a complex, multifaceted and far-reaching problem, affecting all aspects of family life.

“Eviction, instead of being rare, has become ordinary. The prevalence of eviction, how common it is in low-income communities, is leaving a deep and jagged scar on the next generation. And it’s something we’ll all have to face sooner or later,” Desmond says. “The fellowship gives me incredible license to think big and think differently. There’s a lot of hope and a lot of capacity to do something major about this problem.”

Desmond is the author of the upcoming book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” and a graduate of Arizona State University (his Phi Kappa Phi chapter) and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, has written several other books, including “On the Fireline,” “Race in America,” and “The Racial Order,” and has been published in the American Journal of Sociology and the American Sociological Review. He is also editor of the forthcoming issue of RSF: Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences.

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards $625,000, unrestricted, and paid over five years to those who shoe “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” 

Photo credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation