RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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79 Housing landscapes and the life course
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Rory Coulter (University College London, UK)
Michael Thomas (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Chair(s) Rory Coulter (University College London, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 29 August 2018, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Glamorgan Building - Committee Room 2
Session abstract Housing is an important space in the geography of everyday life that is deeply intertwined with the structure of multiple life course careers (for example in the domains of family, work and health). In recent years, highly charged public debates about ‘housing crises’ in Britain and elsewhere have highlighted how changes in housing landscapes are altering demographic processes and creating new life course pressures that are unevenly distributed across birth cohorts, space and social groups. Housing is thus becoming increasingly central to the production, lived experience and transmission of a range of inequalities.

The two sessions in this theme explore the varied connections between micro- and macro-scale landscapes of housing and the unequal (re)structuring of life course careers. Session 1 showcases the latest research on these issues from a diverse range of contexts. Session 2 then consists of an open roundtable discussion designed to (i) foster housing-related collaboration among geographers and (ii) devise a research agenda for further work on this topic.

Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Wrong, but useful: Setting a baseline on the relationship between tenure, household composition and dwelling occupation
Boyana Buyuklieva (University College London, UK)
The current housing crisis in the UK is not a universal phenomenon; family circumstances, housing tenure and dwelling conditions all interact with each other. This means that in different places and at different points in time, individuals may have increased or decreased exposure to housing stress. Datasets such as the ONS Longitudinal Study allow us to evaluate these evolving stresses over the life course for a sample of individuals, but while there is virtue in studying relational practices, time-linked cases studies are at danger of being anecdotal unless there is a common baseline to compare these to. This paper proposes an empirical framework for setting a baseline that qualifies the relationship between housing tenure, family status and dwelling type. It will do so using cross-tabulated events data on the topics from the 2011 England and Wales Census to present the proportions and subsequent analysis of Pearson’s residuals to see if the relationship between types of households, dwelling density and tenure is positive or negative assuming independence. It hopes to spark a discussion on what can make a useful, even if inaccurate, model framework that can be calibrated over time for situating time-linked case studies. More directly, this presentation argues that there is virtue in a shared understanding of ‘what is normal’, even if this assumption is flawed, so long as the paths at arriving to this are systematic and can be repeated or scrutinised. This shared baseline is valuable to compare and therefore, fully appreciate the nuances of how tenure, family status and housing have a bearing on each-other at a smaller scale.
The restricted reimaging of the contemporary suburb
Alan Marvell (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
This paper identifies a disconnect between the shifting realities of a contemporary suburb in the UK by identifying the persistence of a more traditional set of suburban imagery produced by housing developers. The study of suburban developments is based on an area in North Swindon, UK, a consortium-led planned community that was one of the largest privately-funded housing developments in Europe (Boddy et al., 1997; Marvell, 2004). Analysis of housing developers’ promotional brochures, based on a multimodal approach (Kress, 2010), reveals that a suburban idyll is reflected through the allure of a suburban dream, set amidst a semi-rural landscape with an emphasis on home and white-British female domesticity (Silverstone, 1997; Blunt and Dowling, 2006; McDowell, 2007; Meah, 2014). This contrasts with a diverse range of 21st century lifestyles expressed through community, leisure, mobility, family and gender that do not necessarily conform to a traditional image of suburban living (Urry, 2007; Huq, 2013). What is evidenced in the developers’ promotional material is an exercise in place marketing based on the interests of target groups to (re)present an image of an imagined suburbia (Kavaratzis and Ashworth, 2005; 2010). The paper concludes that place marketing and re-imaging is being restricted to conform to a set of historic and rural narratives rather than embrace a desire to design a suburban landscape that seeks to meet the aspirations of the present and provide a vision of the future.
Residential trajectories of high-skilled transnational migrants in the global city: Exploring housing choices of Russian and Italian professionals in London
Sabina Maslova (Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy)
The dwelling of mobile professionals in global cities is embedded in broader transformations of society, social inequalities, and power relations. This paper compares the housing choices and residential experiences of high-skilled transnational migrants from Italy and Russia in the contested housing conditions of London. Taking into consideration the socio-spatial behavior of two culturally distinct groups allows broadening the analysis of housing preferences. Along with the lifestyles defined by age, life stage, family and social status and duration of stay; the influence of sociocultural backgrounds on migrants’ transnational living is also investigated. Italian migrants bring the perspectives of Southern European geo-economic and cultural positioning, and Russian migrants are pertinent to a different European background of post-socialism. Theoretically, the paper contributes to the literature on the ‘middling’ transnationalism in global cities and addresses the call for in-depth research into the everyday lived experiences of migrants. The qualitative study is based on 30 semi-structured interviews with high-skilled transnational professionals living in London, including those from Russia and Italy, and aims to unveil the motivations and characteristics of their residential behavior. The housing decisions are discussed in the frame of proximity to work, urban amenities, and social networks, and the narratives linked to the Southern European and post-socialist conditions are explored. Additionally, the paper illuminates the potential influence of Brexit on the residential trajectories of these two migrant groups, particularly regarding future and former housing decisions. Overall, the paper contributes to highlighting the relations between (im)mobility and dwelling within transnational contexts.
Roundtable discussion
Open roundtable discussion