Japonica Brown-Saracino

Professor of SociologyJaponica Fall 2017

PhD Northwestern University (2006)

Sociology Room 249

617.358.6675 | japonica@bu.edu


 Japonica Brown-Saracino is an ethnographer who specializes in urban and community sociology, cultural sociology, and the study of sexualities.  In 2004, City and Community published her article, “Social Preservationists and the Quest for Authentic Community,” which draws on her study of four gentrifying communities (two small New England towns and two Chicago neighborhoods) and introduces her concept of “social preservation”.  She further explores social preservation and gentrification in her book, A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity (The Fieldwork Encounters and Discoveries Series of the University of Chicago Press, 2009), which received the 2010 – 2011 Urban Affairs Association Best Book Award.  In 2010 Routledge’s Metropolis and Modern Life Series published a second book, The Gentrification Debates, which is composed of excerpts from defining book chapters and articles on gentrification published over the last forty-five years.  Brown-Saracino frames the collection with original essays on four key areas of debate within the gentrification literature.  More recently, Brown-Saracino published a review of sociological scholarship on gentrification (Annual Review of Sociology, 2017).

Her new book, How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities, was published in December, 2017 by the University of Chicago Press Fieldwork Encounters and Discoveries Series.  The book draws on her comparative ethnography of four small U.S. cities with growing or emerging populations of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women.  It highlights how city ecology shapes social interactions, and, ultimately, how we understand ourselves and the groups to which we belong.  Articles from the project have appeared in Social Problems (2011), Qualitative Sociology (2014) and American Journal of Sociology (2015). Her 2015 AJS article received the 2016 Jane Addams Award for best article from the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association.

Brown-Saracino has served as Vice-President of the Eastern Sociological Society, secretary/treasurer of the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, as co-book review editor for City & Community, on the Boston University Initiative on Cities’ advisory board, and as a consulting editor for the American Journal of SociologyShe is a member of the Contemporary Sociology editorial board and chair-elect of the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the ASA. At BU she directs the Urban Inequalities Workshop, which is sponsored by the Initiative on Cities.



Brown-Saracino, Japonica.  2018.  How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brown-Saracino, Japonica.  2017.  “Explicating Divided Approaches to Gentrification and Growing Income Inequality,” Annual Review of Sociology, V. 43.

Brown-Saracino, Japonica & Parker, Jeffrey Nathaniel.  2017.  “‘What is up with my sisters? Where are you?’ The origins and consequences of lesbian-friendly place reputations for LBQ migrants,” Sexualities, February, 2017.

Brown-Saracino, Japonica & Stiman, Meaghan.  2017.  “On the Value of Recognizing the Limits of Meeting Ethnography for Community Studies,” Sandler, Jen, and Renita Thedvall, eds. Meeting Ethnography: Meetings as Key Technologies of Contemporary Governance, Development, and Resistance. Routledge, 2017.

Brown-Saracino, J. 2016.  “An Agenda for the Next Decade of Gentrification Scholarship,” City & Community 15 (3): 220 – 225.

Brown-Saracino, J. 2016.  “Preserving Social Character and Navigating Preservation Divides,” in Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States, Page, M & Miller, M. editors.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Brown-Saracino, Japonica.  2015.  “How Places Shape Identity: The Origins of Distinctive LBQ Identities in Four Small U.S. Cities,” American Journal of Sociology, V. 121, N. 1: 1 – 66.

Kuras, E., Hondula, D., & Brown-Saracino, J.  2015.  “Heterogeneity in individually experienced temperatures (IETs) within an urban neighborhood: insights from a new approach to measuring heat exposure,International Journal of Biometeorology.

Brown-Saracino, J.  2014.  “From Methodological Stumbles to Substantive Insights: Gaining Ethnographic Access in Queer Communities,”Qualitative Sociology, March 2014, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 43-68

Brown-Saracino, J.  2013.  “Gentrification,Oxford Bibliographies, Manza, J. ed.

Brown-Saracino, Japonica.  2011.  “From the Lesbian Ghetto to Ambient Community: The Perceived Costs and Benefits of Integration for Social Ties,” Social Problems, V. 58, N.3, August 2011: 361 – 388.

Brown-Saracino, Japonica & Rumpf, Cesraea.  2011.  “Diverse Imageries of Gentrification: Evidence from Newspaper Coverage in Major U.S. Cities, 1986 – 2006, Journal of Urban Affairs, V. 33, I. 3: 289 – 315.

2010. Brown-Saracino, Japonica, editor. The Gentrification Debates. New York: Routledge.

2009.  A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2009.  “LGBTI in Community and Urban Sociology: New Directions for our Subfield,” Community and Urban Sociology Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2008/2009.

2008. Brown-Saracino, Japonica, Fine, Gary Alan & Thurk, Jessica.    “Beyond Groups: Seven Pillars of Peopled Ethnography in Communities and Organizations,” Qualitative Research, V. 8, N. 5: 547-567.

2007.   “Virtuous Marginality: Social Preservationists and the Selection of the Old-timer,” Theory and Society, V. 36, N. 5: 437 – 468.