I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rice University. My research examines how individuals make decisions in organizations and economic markets, how these decisions are influenced by interaction with others, and how these decisions reproduce existing demographic and geographic inequalities.
In my book, Market Makers (under contract with The University of Chicago Press), I investigate how people choose where to live and how much to spend in the housing market. Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork analyzing interactions between real estate agents and prospective homebuyers, Market Makers presents an in-depth account of the social influences that come together during the sales process. The book shows how agents do emotion work to get buyers to fall for particular units. It shows that the way buyers and agents interact has consequences for how much buyers pay. And it shows how agents’ assessment of neighborhoods and buyers matter for the cultural meaning and demographic make up of different places. The book offers a new perspective on markets, revealing how intermediaries like real estate agents set the terms for our most important economic decisions.
Other research focuses on discrimination in economic transactions (with Jacob William Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey), how recent changes in the production of news and the journalism labor market have affected the institutional pressures faced by journalism schools (with Caitlin Petre), and how sociology conceptualizes the self (with Shamus Khan). In a new project (with Ariela Schachter) I use multiple methods to examine the relationship between online advertisements for rental housing, housing prices, and various forms of residential segregation.
My work has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Tow-Knight Center, and awards from the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, the Eastern Sociological Society, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
Schachter, Ariela and Max Besbris. 2017. "Immigration and Neighborhood Change: Methodological Possibilities for Future Research." City & Community 16: 244-51.
Besbris, Max and Shamus Khan. 2017. "Less Theory. More Description." Sociological Theory 53: 147-53.
Besbris, Max. 2016. "Romancing the home: emotions and the interactional creation of demand in the housing market." Socio-Economic Review 14: 461-82.
NY brokers are ultra concentrated in white and Asian neighborhoods, furthering segregation -- Brick Underground
How real estate agents manage homebuyers' emotions and reshape preferences -- Work In Progress