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ERIC Number: EJ809505
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Sep
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
ISSN: ISSN-0036-0112
A Place to Call Home: Cultural Understandings of Heir Property among Rural African Americans
Dyer, Janice F.; Bailey, Conner
Rural Sociology, v73 n3 p317-338 Sep 2008
Heir property is land held communally by family members of a landowner who has died intestate. Because this informal arrangement does not fit neatly into the individualist-centered, integrated property rights system of the United States, it is viewed by most as a hindrance to economic development and capitalism. We present an alternative framework for analyzing the significance of heir property in the African American community and its constraints. While the consequences of owning land with clouded title are clear--ineligibility for housing programs, inability to secure a mortgage or sell timber, and vulnerability to land loss through partition and tax sales--we argue that a culturally-based understanding of heir property provides insight to why it persists among rural African Americans. Based on personal interviews with heir property owners, lawyers, housing counselors, and county officials, the authors illustrate how heir property is supportive of certain cultural values and meets the needs of a subset of rural populations in ways that other forms of property ownership cannot. (Contains 1 table.)
Rural Sociological Society. 104 Gentry Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211-7040. Tel: 573-882-9065; Fax: 573-882-1473; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States