Digital Transformations in Property and Development

Online real estate shopper

Faculty-Led Research Team

Team Leads: Desiree Fields, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, UC Berkeley; Hilary Faxon, Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley

Advances in digital technology and platform business models are dramatically reshaping how real estate is planned and developed by public agencies and builders, bought and sold by homeowners and investors, operated by landlords, and inhabited by all of us. In turn, we are witnessing transformations in property and development across cities and hinterlands, from advanced economies with mature formal real estate markets to emerging economies where formal property titles are a recent phenomenon.

This Matrix Research Team will draw on ongoing research into case studies from a range of global contexts to investigate a central question: how do digital technologies shape property and development, and with what effects? We pay particular attention to questions of accumulation, inequality, and politics, framing our individual projects and overarching inquiry within an urgent interdisciplinary conversation about tech and social justice. By exploring technology’s impacts on rural and urban development, geopolitics, racial equity, and land commodification in diverse contexts, we seek to understand both the problems and the potential for equitable digital futures. Our research team brings together early-career and established scholars from geography, critical information studies, and political ecology to investigate the shifting relationships between technology, development, and property, aiming to foster a vibrant community of practice in which more senior researchers actively mentor graduate students both at and beyond Berkeley.