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Political economy comes home: on the moral economies of housing

Alexander, Catherine, Bruun, Maja Hojer and Koch, Insa (2018) Political economy comes home: on the moral economies of housing. Critique of Anthropology, 38 (2). pp. 121-139. ISSN 0308-275X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0308275X18758871


The concept of moral economies of housing centres and links the Introduction and contributions to the Special issue. A number of themes emerge. First, a variety of moral communities exist, sometimes rivalrous, sometimes internally riven, sometimes with expectations of reciprocal obligations. We therefore move away from the idea of a dyadic relationship between a singular authority and a singular recipient, be that individual citizens, households or indeed a singular moral community. Instead we uncover overlapping relations, both vertical and horizontal, as different groups make claims and invoke obligations at multiple levels. Second, several actors appear, or are invoked as authorities to be appealed or performed to for satisfaction of rights, from state bodies and individuals to banks, third sector and collective organisations and social movements. Third there is often lack of clarity over how to assert rights or engage with authorities. Two final characteristics are the loss of a perceived moral right to a secure home and a sense of betrayal. In some places, housing conflicts lead to protests and resistance as people perform this sense that political and economic elites have violated or reneged on moral obligations of intervention and / or protection. And yet, these protests are often ephemeral, ‘moments rather than movements’ (Calhoun, 2012), swiftly fracturing into the multiple moral communities and individuals who briefly conjoined. These protests may be seen as a key artefact of late capitalism linking social atomisation with a lingering sense of customary obligations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors
Divisions: Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2017 10:42
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 05:21

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