A structural view on housing movements:

Strategic lessons from a field of contention approach

Ioana Florea, Agnes Gagyi and Kerstin Jacobsson

Published in Issue 6.1 // The Long Read

Keywords: Structural field of contention, housing commodification, housing privatization, duality of housing policy, social movements


In this article, we share strategic lessons from applying a ‘structural field of contention’ approach to a comparative study of housing struggles in Hungary and Romania since 1989. The aim is not to highlight details and specificities, but to show the benefits of looking beyond individual progressive movements in focus of most previous literature, instead capturing the ideological and structural complexity of housing contention, with different positions on the political spectrum, in an integrated way. With such analytical approach, we can grasp the broader field of relations where various answers to the same structural processes are generated and interact with each other in a dynamic way. In this way, a strategically informative view on how structural processes become politicized can be gained for both housing struggles and engaged research.


Ioana Florea is a sociologist working on urban transformations and manifestations of uneven development in Eastern European cities. Her recent contributions on housing struggles are published in Radical Housing Journal (2020), Global Urbanism. Knowledge, Power and the City (Routledge, 2021), Critical Housing Analysis (2022).

Agnes Gagyi is a sociologist working on Eastern European politics and social movements from the perspective of the region’s long-term world-economic and geopolitical integration. Her recent publications include The Political Economy of Middle Class Politics and the Global Crisis in Eastern Europe (Palgrave, 2021) and The Political Economy of Eastern Europe 30 years into the ‘Transition’. New Left Perspectives from the Region (Palgrave, 2021).

Kerstin Jacobsson is professor of sociology at University of Gothenburg, working in the field of political sociology and social movements. She has edited and co-authored several books on social movements and civil society in Central and Eastern Europe, including Civil Society Revisited: Lessons from Poland (Berghahn, 2017, co-edited with Elzbieta Korolczuk) and Contemporary Housing Struggles. A Structural Field of Contention Approach (Palgrave, 2022, co-authored with Ioana Florea and Agnes Gagyi).

Download PDF

See article reference