My project examines gendered, ethnic/racial and class geographies of low-income housing to learn more about the processes and structures involved in social reproduction of the urban poor. In doing so, I strive to add more precision to the meaning of dispossession as a descriptor of contemporary social dynamics. To this end, the study undertakes a historically informed empirical analysis of key housing issues such as homelessness, land speculation and its effects on affordable housing for the urban poor, and household debt across three urban spaces – Berlin, Dublin and Toronto. The starting point of the project is the assumption that varied forms of housing provision create highly differentiated and dynamic sites of social reproduction. These contested fields of reproduction are inextricably linked to questions of indebtedness in contemporary capitalism. The project demonstrates that places as sites of social reproduction are shaped not only by gender, class and race/ethnicity but also by modes of neoliberal governance and the social power of what Marx refers to as fictitious capital in the form of land, rental relations and credit. This ties the present project to my most recent book on debtfare states and the social power of money in contemporary capitalism – Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry.
To date, research in Berlin has yielded several interesting preliminary findings: (1) the privatization of social housing has led to increased marginalization; (2) the groups mostly affected by privatization and deregulation have been poor, single-parent and elderly households; (3) rental and consumer debt have risen from 2000 onward, coinciding with marketization of housing provision, and (4) the increase in homelessness is directly related to the lack of affordable housing (rental increases).
|Short title||Poverty Housing|