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Anna Martin

ESR7

Anna Martin has a background in environmental social science and holds a double degree from the Master Program in Environmental Science (EnvEuro) from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and SLU (Sweden). She completed her studies with a specialisation in Environmental Management to be able to move between science, policy and practice.

Originally from Hungary, she has lived and worked in Denmark, Sweden, France and in the USA. Her experiences with private foundations, consultancies and governmental authorities added to her strong interest in development projects based on specific societal (democratic, sustainability) issues.

Anna will be working on the research project “Housing crisis and its impact on adequate housing” (ESR7), based at the Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence (Budapest).

Research topic

Updated sumaries

May, 14, 2022

Housing crisis and its impact on adequate housing - The new housing precariat in Denmark and Hungary

 

In 2021 the European Parliament finally responded to the housing crisis, calling member states of the union to recognize adequate housing as a fundamental human right. Adequate and affordable housing in the different Member States of the European Union is inseparable from European and international politics. However, the success is heavily dependent on the attitude of Member States, on how much they are willing to use their discretion and develop a new standard of housing policies with a focus on social inclusion (with addressing both regional and social inequalities), economic effectiveness, and environmental protection.

 

Housing is a social need, as it is at the heart of our daily lives. It affects the longevity of our civilization. Member states must be willing to invest in social housing with the help of European Cohesion Funds (e.g., ERDG, ESF+, Just Transition Fund, or Next Generation EU) and beyond. The European Semester provides the Member States with a forum where they can discuss fiscal, policy, and economic challenges and transfer good practices from one country to another, overcoming institutional differences. There is a need to address the issues of housing affordability, lack of access to housing finance, increasing segregation, homelessness, and deteriorating housing situations. Marginalized societal values are requesting center stage during these critical times. Agency (“the ability to act”)(Valentine, 2001, p.349) is often removed from vulnerable groups, and they cannot exercise their right to adequate housing (including the security of tenure, access to services and materials, facilities, and infrastructure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location, and cultural appropriateness).

 

This research aims to investigate the housing crises in Europe both at the individual level and at the level of society. Including both the macro and the micro-level, it will be demonstrated how individual and structural factors are interlinked and contribute to housing issues together. The main causal mechanisms caused by the underlying and conflicting paradigms (”Enable Housing Market” / ”Housing for All”) (Hegedüs, 2021) will be examined in the context of two countries: Denmark and Hungary. Both countries were affected by the wealth-creating feature of housing as a commodity that has been reinforced over time, which inevitably made housing costs more expensive. Despite the optimistic expectations of the decades following the Second World War, social and territorial inequalities increased, and a new housing precariat emerged as the socio-economic position of the middle class became unstable.

 

With a particularistic nature, the research will rehabilitate the ´juxtapositional approach´ (Kemeny and Lowe, 1998) and describe the contrast between the two countries (e.g.: different political economies, social security systems, regime types). Also, a new framework will be developed, to differentiate marginalized groups (people in extreme poverty) from the precariat (low- and middle-income groups in precarious housing situations).

 

The research would employ a mixed research design to reach its objective. After desktop research, it will experiment with the role of action research in housing studies to nurture a transdisciplinary understanding. There is a hypothesis that action research would be able to overcome the split between local initiatives at the action level and their societal potentials on the macro level, and it would be able to connect the pillars (community participation/policy and financing/design, planning and building) of the RE-DWELL ITN research project. Results of the research will enable the researcher to have an intelligent estimate of the forces that caused the housing crises and provide the reader with theoretically informed and empirically verified knowledge about the best practices in affordable housing options and policy solutions.

 

In short, this study will highlight the brutal consequences of the shift from a general welfare approach (where housing is a societal pillar) to a neoliberal housing market and provide both: a systematic overview and personal stories to show the full spectrum of issues of the housing crises in Europe.

 

Hegedüs, J. (2021). Limits and Options for Affordable Housing Policies. Housing governance to support housing affordability. UNECE Regional Online Workshop. 

 

Kemeny, J., and S. Lowe. (1998). “Schools of Comparative Housing Research: From Convergence to

Divergence.” Housing Studies 13 (2): 161–176. doi:10.1080/02673039883380.

 

Valentine G. (2001). Social Geographies: Space and Society.

Prentice Hall: London.

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Critical Utopian Action Research

Housing Regime

Area: Community participation

The term Critical Utopian Action Research (CAR) was inspired by critical theory originating in the Scandinavian action research milieu (Nielsen & Nielsen, 2006; Gunnarson et al., 2016). CUAR advocates a critique of social structures, as these are often the barriers to human development (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014; Hansen et al., 2016). In this tradition, the role of the researcher is to raise awareness of societal problems. CUAR was inspired by (1) critical theory, (2) the work of Kurt Lewin, (3) socio- technical action research and (4) future research. (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). CUAR researchers function as facilitators of free spaces (Bladt & Nielsen, 2013), that is to say, they create forums and arenas to foster deliberations, dialogues and joint activities. These spaces serve as laboratories where social learning and imagination are developed in order to enable “new forms of social learning between citizens and scientists" (Egmose, 2015, p.1). The CUAR framework was developed by Kurt Aagaard Nielsen and Birger Steen Nielsen (Nielsen & Nielsen, 2006). The tradition of CUAR emerged for the practical application of critical knowledge through analysing modernity in the social sciences, and in cultural and philosophical studies. This theoretical, methodological, and practical framework was inspired by some relevant critical theorists, such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer.  They formed a view that science cannot be considered valid unless it is the result of democratic processes. On that same note,  an undemocratic investigation of the world can only lead to an undemocratic reality (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). In addition, purely positivist approaches, devoid of critical reflection, neglect fundamental democratic values (McIntosh, 2010). According to CUAR advocates, society cannot be governed in a technocratic way with a purely authoritarian development logic (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). CUAR encourages the creation of democratic knowledge with a high level of reflexivity (Elling, 2008). A basic argument used by Lewin was that researchers do not only work for scientific reasons -in the circuit of academically mediated reflexivity, away from other members of society -, but they also work for and together with research participants (McIntosh, 2010; Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). Lewin’s methodology is relevant for housing studies, as it is institutionalized in the socio-technical tradition of action research and where participants co-operate with researchers in real life  projects. Another important inspiration for the CUAR tradition is future research, a notion introduced by the German philosopher Robert Jungk, who applied tools and created forums for democratic change  for a better future (Jungk & Müllert, 1987; Reason & Bradbury, 2008). According to Jungk, the future is determined by a small elite, while the majority of citizens remain powerless. Therefore, he wanted people not to close their eyes to the future, but to become co-creators of it (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). The convergence of critical utopian thinking and everyday knowledge are the key ingredients of CUAR. This research framework provides a unique and useful orientation of imaginative processes towards sustainable social change. CUAR fosters transdisciplinary thinking across a wide range of existing knowledge. By creating new platforms (for example educational platforms, campaigns, or experimental pilot projects) it can give people the opportunity to act upon their values and knowledge.

Created on 05-07-2022

Author: A.Martin (ESR7)

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Area: Policy and financing

The discussion on housing regimes dates back to e neo-institutional turn in policy research which occurred during the 1980s. This literature viewed institutions not so much as “formal” entities but more as the culmination of conflicting power relations, market dynamics, and ideology. The study of these dynamics could, in turn, be used to understand the variegated development of post-war welfare states, as exemplified by Esping-Andersen’s seminal Three worlds of welfare capitalism (1990). Kemeny defined the housing regime as “the social, political, and economic system of housing supply, distribution, and consumption, which determines the housing market opportunities of a certain period” (1981, p. 13). His framework follows the logic of the historical and institutional structure of society. Kemeny (2006) argues that, due to the central role of real estate in modern capitalism, housing systems follow similar paths, albeit with  different logics. Studying the emergence of regimes of a different nature between countries, he distinguished between unitary and dualized housing regimes, based on their rental-market systems, that is: (a) countries with an open private sector but with a firmly regulated public sector are characterized by a dual rental market; and (b) societies where the private and public sectors are strictly regulated have a unitary rental market. In dualist countries (primarily the Anglo-Saxon ones), homeownership is commonplace, while in countries with an integrated/unitary system (such as Germany, Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries) renting is a realistic and even competitive alternative to ownership. Kemeny highlighted that the dominance of homeownership is not organically developed but is socially and politically constructed. The above conceptualization of housing regime based on the functioning of rental market systems does not mirror the (Foucaultian) political and conflictual approach of Clapham, for whom a housing regime stands for a “set of discourses and social, economic and political practices that influence the provision, allocation, consumption [of housing] and housing outcomes in a given country” (2019, p. 24). He views policy as an arena where actors “negotiate and bargain” through discursive processes (Ruonavaara, 2020b). Clapham clearly distinguishes regime types from housing regimes. Regime types are useful for categorization since they can function as a baseline for comparative studies. However, “every housing regime is unique”(Ruonavaara, 2020b). Because of the complexity of the concept, Clapham (2019, p.17) proposes a three-stage analysis for housing policy (Figure 1). Ruonavaara (2020b) finds Clapham’s approach nuanced but too general and broad, which – according to him - makes it less applicable. On the other hand, Hegedüs (2020) considers Clapham’s (2002) housing pathway reasonable, as it describes housing provision forms as a result of interactions. In line with Clapham, he argues that “interventions within the housing system can only be understood in the context of interactions between different housing market actors” (Hegedüs, 2020, p. 569). Consequently, an analysis that only focuses on the rental sector would lead to narrowed interpretations with low explanatory power. More recently, Ruonavaara provided a new definition of housing regimes, which combines the elements of previous theories. He defined housing regime as a “set of fundamental principles according to which housing provision operates in some defined area (municipality, region, state) at a particular point in time” (2020a, p. 10). These principles are present in discourses, institutional arrangements, and political interventions. All actors have certain principles when operating in the system of housing provision at a given time and place. Housing regimes can be considered as the “principles of operation” (Ruonavaara, 2020a). In this sense, the housing regime concept faces challenges in its ability to represent an effective analytical tool for today’s housing systems. For Stephens (2020), it is necessary to rethink housing regime as a way to find middle-range theories given that current accounts of neoliberal convergence (Aalbers, 2016; Clapham, 2019) barely manage to explain the role of regime path-dependences in continuing to shape variegated housing outcomes.

Created on 24-02-2022

Author: C.Verrier (ESR3), A.Martin (ESR7)

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