Houses of cards? The Rules and Institutions of Housing Illegality in Western Countries

14 January 2021 - 15 January 2021

SG1/2, CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

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Convenor

Sabina Maslova (University of Cambridge)
Francesco Chiodelli (Università degli studi di Torino)

 

Keynote Speaker

Alexander Vasudevan (University of Oxford)


Speakers

Melanie Lombard (University of Sheffield)
Giovanni Picker (University of Glasgow) 
Joanna Kusiak (University of Cambridge)

 

Summary

While traditionally housing illegality has been associated mainly (if not exclusively) with minorities and marginalized groups (e.g. ethnic groups, homeless people), recent research in Western countries (so-called Global North) has shown a greater variety of forms of ‘inhabiting outside the law’ practised by a range of actors (e.g. the construction of unauthorized secondary residencies by middle-income people, outbuildings used illegally for residential accommodation of migrants, squatting of private and public empty buildings) and for different purposes (e.g. speculation, recreation, need). What these different cases have in common is their relationship with public institutions. These diverse manifestations of housing illegality, in fact, do not arise and spread in a context of lack of regulatory action by the state. Instead, these informal practices are inserted in complex relationships with different manifestations of public authority (laws, policies, civil servants’ practices) and, as such, exist in a highly regulated space. Moreover, sometimes also non-public regulatory actors are involved and they contribute to set rules which complement (and sometimes replace) those established by public bodies. Therefore, housing illegality in Western countries is situated in a complex institutional environment, which is the result of the mediated interaction of different layers of public action and a variety of individual and collective practices by non-public actors (such as NGOs, inhabitants of the “illegal city”, mobsters, advocacy groups, depending on the case).

 

This symposium aims at investigating different kinds of housing illegality in the West (Europe, Americas and Australasia) from the viewpoint of their interaction with the broader institutional framework in which they are situated. The multifaceted connection of informal practices in the field of housing with different layers of both public (e.g. planning and building laws, practice by street-level bureaucrats) and non-public (e.g. informal rules established by criminal organizations, shared social norms in specific informal environment institutions), and the resulting politics of housing informality are under scrutiny in particular. Additional inputs reflecting on the changing nature of housing illegality and meanings of legal housing at times of global pandemic would be considered.

 

Sponsors

    Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research Logo

 

Supported by:

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)

Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research

 

Conference assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk