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The scarcity of affordable rental housing has become a defining social issue with an increasing number of impoverished households embroiled in a vicious cycle of displaced survival marked by overindebtedness, evictions and homelessness. To deconstruct this reality, I view low-income rental housing as a historical social relation in that it is a unique commodity in capitalism that provides a necessary place for the social reproduction of labour power while being simultaneously integrated into the global dynamics of financial capitalism. This results in lucrative gains for a select minority yet leaving a majority to survive on a patchwork of monetized means including meager wages, expensive consumer credit, and inadequate social welfare payments. To engage the current dynamics reshaping rental housing as a place for the social reproduction of the working poor within financial capitalism, my talk draws on an empirically grounded analysis of Berlin, Dublin and Vienna. I argue that historical and geographical configurations of monetized power, including landlords, employers, and inter-scalar state practices have served to reproduce rental housing insecurity and silence its gendered, class and racialized underpinnings. The outcome is the everyday facilitation and normalization of urban poverty and social marginalization on one side and financial capitalism on the other.
Susanne Soederberg is a Professor in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario Canada. Dr Soederberg’s research interests are broad and varied, ranging from global development finance, global governance, corporate power, debt, urban poverty, and state theory. She has investigated these themes across many geographical spaces across the global North and global South, including Latin America, Southeast Asia, North America and Europe. Among numerous scholarly publications and special issue editorships, Dr. Soederberg has authored several books, including two award-winning monographs, Corporate Power in Contemporary Capitalism (2010) and Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry (2014). Professor Soederberg has recently published a new monograph –Urban Displacements: Governing Surplus and Survival in Global Capitalism (2021) – from which her FinGeo talks draws.
Chair: Manuel Aalbers, KU Leuven, Belgium
Manuel B. Aalbers is professor of Human Geography at KU Leuven, the University of Leuven (Belgium) where he leads a research group on the intersection of real estate, finance and states. He has also published on financialization, redlining, social and financial exclusion, neoliberalism, mortgage markets, the privatization of social housing, neighborhood decline and gentrification. He is the author of Place, Exclusion, and Mortgage Markets (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and The Financialization of Housing: A Political Economy Approach (Routledge, 2016) and the editor of Subprime Cities: The Political Economy of Mortgage Markets (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). He is also the associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Urban Studies (Sage, 2010) and editor-in-chief of geography journal TESG. Most of his papers can be downloaded from https://kuleuven.academia.edu/ManuelAalbers. Finally, Manuel is also one of the founding members of FinGeo.net, the Global Network on Financial Geography.