Over the course of the next couple of weeks, NLP will be running a series of articles on the politics of housing.
Housing and property impacts on us all. It is a key point of interaction with the political and economic system and a site in which social inequalities and injustices are starkly revealed and broader political struggles are played out.
From the rural enclosures and urbanisation that accompanied the birth of capitalism, to the development of mass working class housing in the post-war era, and the subsequent privatisation of public housing that was so central to neoliberalism, housing has played a major role in the history of political struggle. And it was in the ‘subprime’ housing market that the economic crisis in which we now find ourselves was first revealed.
Even before the onset of the financial crisis, housing in the UK had become unaffordable for many—and conditions since then have only worsened. Though ‘the market’ has failed to provide affordable, decent homes, not only do politicians show little interest in addressing this problem, we now face an attack on public housing by a right-wing government determined to expand and accelerate the commodification of housing. This is therefore a timely issue for discussion, debate and most importantly political action.
Contributors to the series, both activists and academics, will discuss the history, economics and politics of housing, detailing some of the current activism in the UK around the right to housing and exploring the possibilities for larger and more effective political mobilisation. We kick off today with a piece by Sarah Glynn in which she reveals the wasteful neoliberal logic at the heart of Scotland’s apparently more progressive housing policies.
Update: in the second piece in the series, Kean Birch describes how increased home ownership has contributed to rising inequality.
Second Update: You can now view all the articles in this series here.