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Title: The housing question and the production of uneven urban spatialities in Post-Soviet Moscow and Russia
Author: Badyina, Anna
ISNI:       0000 0000 6709 3871
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Since the early 1990s, Russia's housing system, along with many other spheres of social life, has been undergoing radical changes, involving a shift from a state-led planned socialist system to that based on market principles. These reforms have generated multiple contradictions in the organization of housing and residential life, such as a fragmented housing policy, intensified residential inequalities, rapidly degrading Soviet era housing, and a situation when the majority of the population have little prospect of sustainability improving their housing status. Yet, at present, there is no comprehensive theory-driven analysis that would explore these complex and important developments and contradictions. This study aims at building a more comprehensive understanding of the housing and residential condition by integrating a critical geographical imagination into both classic and contemporary politico-economic thoughts in relation to the housing question. The study argues that housing is a central facet of 'the web of life' and is a socio-spatial arena through which the capitalist regime establishes itself in everyday life and where it is contested. Capitalism subjects hitherto universal housing and residential spaces to the praxis of accumulation by disposession, by which a scarcity of quality residential life is being created and, thus, new opportunities for extra profits are generated. Constituting these processes are new housing ideologies and practices that promote the reorganization of the complex matrix of socio-spatial relations centring on housing, from urban to national scales and along multiple spatialities. The argument develops through a set of cumulative approximations and case studies. Firstly, the processes of gentrification and a more systematic strategy of residential 'elitification' are discussed, by means of which urban space is structured according to residential 'prestige', producing exclusionary 'golden islands' of wealth accumulation. Secondly, the study moves on to reveal how the so-called national affordable housing project revokes the universal right to housing as inherited from the Soviet system to withdraw the state and to formulate new meanings and practices that only assist the more powerful interests. Thirdly, the study looks at how privatization and financialization spread into Soviet- era multi family housing spaces by reforming the existing socio-physical infrastructure that maintains these areas. It looks at how the hitherto universal housing and utility services undergo destructive fragmentation and wealth transfer. It is through this chaotic fragmentation of housing and residential life that the new commodity capitalism introduces and reproduces itself while also bringing serious contradictions into urban socio-spatial organization, with implications for social reproduction. Overall, the thesis proposes a unified conceptualisation of the housing and residential changes based on a critical ontology of space. It develops an understanding of housing beyond physical changes and abstract market representations to reveal housing as 'socio-spatial praxis' of capitalism and a means of class transformation. The study also sets a new agenda for policy and research, which reconsiders the housing question as a socio-spatial justice question.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available