Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Zook

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Wilson


The dissertation contributes to our understanding of the technologically mediated, professionally managed social relations of private property, and specifically, their consequences for housing and home. I analyze standards and protocols for real estate data transfer, such as the multiple listing service, arguing that these standards play an increasingly important role in how real estate capital authenticates property relations. Focusing on technologies that leverage these standards in order to manage, exchange, and marketize housing, I show how standards often derive from moral values grounded in rubrics of white upper-class masculinity and national border-making. In making this argument, I draw on interviews, archival research, and participant observation at conferences to analyze the technological practices and strategies that real estate (data) capitalists use, both historically and contemporarily, to capture value from real property assets. First, I show how modern real estate data brokerage companies leverage spatial data standards as strategies for scaling up the assetization of housing. Second, I analyze the multiple listing service (MLS), identifying the material conditions in which it emerged and arguing that it remains an important foundation for how ordinary consumers and real estate speculators alike encounter and make sense of housing markets. Third, I discuss two standards-driven practices—mitigating risk and managing property—associated with the market for “proptech,” the real estate sector’s term for digital technologies which aid in managing, transacting, appraising, and surveilling real property. Finally, by way of conclusion, I call for the desanctification of property data itself is an important horizon in the abolitionist struggle for housing justice.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by:

  • the National Science Foundation Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award, #2147833, 2021-2023;
  • the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Competitive Fellowship, 2021;
  • the University of Kentucky Department of Geography Research Fellowship, 2021;
  • the American Association of Geographers Historical Geography Specialty Group Carville Earle PhD Research Award, 2021; and
  • the University of Kentucky Department of Geography Barnhart Withington Research Award, 2020.

Available for download on Saturday, June 15, 2024