Constraints in Housing Narratives: What can we learn from house hunting?

Authors: Rebecca Shakespeare*, Geography, University Of Illinois, Urbana Champain - Urbana, IL
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: housing, gentrification, urban geography, residential mobility
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Bayside C, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

How do people experience structural constraints as they move in New York City? Residential mobility focuses on households as agents with many individual constraints, making residential decisions based on their individual circumstances. However, residential mobility, which focuses on intra-city moves, has limited engagement with the structural forces of neighborhood change in cities. Structural forces explain neighborhood change as capital and political forces, which privilege exchange value of urban land over its use value and exercise spatially hegemonic control of the terrain of a city. These structural forces constrain and enable development of certain parts of a city, constraining where households can live. How do households understand and explain these constraints in their residential mobility, particularly while seeking a new home? How are structural forces of urban change perceived as constraints or enabling forces by households in their residential mobility narratives?

To better understand how households relate the constraining forces of the housing market and neighborhood change to their residential mobility, this paper asks how people employ the concept of constraints in their residential change narrative. Using discourse analysis of a weekly house-hunting newspaper column, which details an individual or household’s hunt for housing and rationale for moving, this paper will identify the ways that households express constraints on their housing selection.

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