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Hesu Yoon

M.A., Sociology, Seoul National University, 2017
B.A., History and Political Science, Yonsei University, 2015
Graduation Year
Dissertation Title
The Social Construction of Neighborhood Desirability
My research asks longstanding questions about spatial inequality in urban sociology: Why do some neighborhoods (or cities) grow and are considered desirable places to live, invest, or travel while others do not? How does this place stratification intersect with racial and class-based inequalities? Drawing on experimental, computational, and qualitative approaches, I investigate how social stratification by race and class becomes spatialized through culture and markets.

I bring in insights from cultural sociology to understand the role of preferences, reputations, and institutions in the uneven production and consumption of places as commodities. Particularly, by interrogating high-status consumers and place entrepreneurs – such as business owners, landlords, and travel writers – who have the power to mold physical, economic, and symbolic urban landscapes, I illuminate racialized perceptions and actions that (re)produce and shift spatial inequalities at the upper end of the social hierarchy. Moreover, in theorizing and designing my research, I pay close attention to structural forces that shape contemporary urban experiences, such as diversifying ethnoracial demographics, the consumer economy, and the rise of location-based digital technology. My research has been generously supported by the Stanford Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and the Korean Foundation of Advanced Studies, among others.

At Stanford, I am a member of the Changing Cities Research Lab (led by Jackelyn Hwang) and the Stanford Ethnography Lab (led by Forrest Stuart). I have also served as a Ph.D. fellow at the Center for Poverty and Inequality, the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, and the Haas Center for Public Service, and I will be serving as a teaching fellow at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity in 2023-2024. Before coming to Stanford, I earned my MA in Sociology from Seoul National University and a BA in History and Political Science from Yonsei University.



Building 120, Room 241