Desiring Space:

The Affective Politics of Intimacy in Shared Rental Accommodation

Faith Taylor

Published in Issue 3.2 // The Long Read

Keywords: intimacy, desire, rentier capitalism, affect


The exorbitant cost of housing in London requires an ever-growing sector of the city’s population to pool economic resources through sharing rented accommodation. In such circumstances, tenants often occupy a state of intimate ‘thrown-togetherness’, residing in quasi-voluntary constellations of impermanent kinship and care. Here, the circulation of feeling politically structures everyday life, as cohabitants jostle for space, sovereignty and economic subsistence. Drawing on an in-depth study of twenty-three millennials living in rented housing in the Borough of Hackney, this paper explores the ways in which the affective politics of intimacy between cohabitants, lovers, friends and between tenants and landlords are significant to the distribution of shelter, autonomy and subsistence within an unregulated housing landscape. Using relational theories of affect, the paper explores the productive politics of ‘sad passions’ among respondents struggling with involuntary proximity and diminished personal sovereignty in shared homes.

Faith MacNeil Taylor is a researcher and educator based in London. She teaches at Royal Holloway, University of London and is also a housing researcher for the Green Group at the Greater London Authority.

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