More than a shelter: conflicts of producing home and care in Vancouver’s low-income housing

Authors: Samantha Thompson*, Simon Fraser University
Topics: Urban Geography, Women, Social Geography
Keywords: Home, Housing, Care work, Feminist geography, Urban geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The relationship between care work and the production of home is well-established, but increasingly complex. A critical geography of home has demonstrated the importance of understanding home as a multi-scalar physical place, a set of feelings, and a politicized site of power and identity. While care work is often associated with the home, shifting political environments mean that it also represents fluid boundaries between public and private spheres, as well as the politicization of care within a neoliberal context. This paper utilizes care work to understand the way that notions of home interact with processes beyond the “private” sphere, where housing discussions among policymakers, politicians, and the public tend to focus on housing as a commodity, rather than the social value of housing as home. Through an examination of government housing policies, together with empirical research in women-focused housing organizations in Vancouver, Canada, I explore the way that notions of home are co-produced between staff and tenants through care work, and relate this to our broader understandings of the connections between gender relations, care work, and the production of housing within wider contexts of neoliberal urbanism. Contributing to a feminist critical geography of home production, I argue that a more nuanced interpretation of the relationship between home production and care work in women’s housing can lead to a refocused discussion on the provision of housing, particularly around ways that the social value of housing as home is produced, understood and valued, as our understandings of care work continue to expand.

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