Claiming the right to dignity:

New organizations for housing justice in neoliberal Sweden

Carina Listerborn, Irene Molina and Åse Richard

Published in Issue 2.1 // The Long Read

Keywords: activism, dignity, resistance, neoliberal housing policies

Abstract:

The lack of affordable housing for people with low income, shrinking public resources, and new political conflicts threaten the availability of housing, at the same time as aggressive forms of urban renewal are causing displacement through ‘renoviction’, putting tenants in critical situations. In this article, we focus on the acts of resistance and new social organization trends that have emerged in relation to the praxis of renoviction used by landlords and other local authorities, and the frustration caused by this praxis. We claim that these new forms of organization are using the concept of renoviction in articulating current struggles for housing justice. Methodologically, we point out the necessity of urban research conducted in close collaboration with activism, as a way for mutual learning and support. Moreover, we suggest that these acts of resistance should be understood as happening within a broader context of economic and political changes affecting the housing market, and in relation to the increased racialization of poverty and territorial stigmatization in Swedish cities. To illustrate and then strive to understand the ongoing resistance and demands for housing justice, we focus on national activist networks emerging in response to the neoliberal housing crisis. We maintain that emerging resistance in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Uppsala represents a growing claim for housing justice. This resistance is based on people’s everyday lives and is a cry for dignity in neighborhoods neglected by housing companies.

Carina Listerborn is professor in Urban Planning at the Institute for Urban Research, IUR, Malmö University and is the Co-founder of CRUSH – Critical Urban Sustainability Hub. Irene Molina is professor of Human Geography at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, IBF, and the Research Co-director of the Center for Multidisciplinary Research on Racism, CEMFOR, at Uppsala University. Åse Richard is PhD student in Human Geography at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, IBF, Uppsala University. Her research concerns displacement and housing development from a gender and intersectional perspective.

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