What information do you think the author of Evicted is missing?

Information that the author of Evicted, Matthew Desmond, might have been missing includes objective information, as Desmond was the sole researcher and may have been influenced by bias, and information from other cities, as Desmond examined only Milwaukee.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although Matthew Desmond conducted a thorough study of the eviction problem in the United States in the 2000s, he might have done more, or he might have proceeded differently. The approach that Desmond took is largely qualitative, with many subjective qualities, and is based primarily on his observations of a small segment of one Upper Midwestern city, Milwaukee. One element of his methodology was to function as the sole primary investigator rather than to form and supervise a research team. Despite his concerted efforts at objectivity, it is impossible for the reader to determine fully the types of bias that Desmond brought to his investigation and the extent to which those biases influenced his project design and execution or his findings. This limitation is characteristic of Desmond’s ethnographic approach.

Because one of his goals was to gain an understanding of the lived experience of people who get evicted, Desmond had to live among and gain the trust of numerous individuals. Inevitably, this meant that others in the neighborhood would not trust him, might evade his questions, or might even lie to him. Similarly, by working with a few landlords, he effectively destroyed the ability to access a number of other landlords, who might have had a different perspective.

Another limitation of the book is that he conducted his study only in one city. He acknowledges that the Milwaukee case is unique in certain aspects, but he encourages the reader to fit one city—as through his subtitle of “the American city”—into the larger national landscape.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team