Reading uneven structures of post-crisis cities through Airbnb platform urbanization

Authors: Chiara Iacovone*, Polytechnic of Turin
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Europe
Keywords: Airbnb, platform urbanism, crisis
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Short-term rental platforms are strongly present in the current debate over socio-spatial dynamics of contemporary cities as commodifying actors of public and private spaces. Airbnb, as the most ubiquitous and pervasive of these platforms, is being scrutinized by the press and by academics.
By questioning the spatial and the economic structure of Airbnb rather than its effects, the purpose of this paper is to identify how geographies of capital structure platform-urbanized cities. In support of this hypothesis, through extensive data-mining of georeferenced data, it will be shown how platform is a carrier of speculation and exploitation within the housing market and, at once, how its internal market is deeply polarized between bigger and smaller actors. The intention is unveiling phenomena hidden under the sharing economy paradox, and therefore interpreting Airbnb as an indicator of social discomfort and precariousness rather than of innovation.
The paper focuses on post-crisis cities, in particular on a set of major Southern European ones (Athens, Palermo, Naples, Lisbon, Porto, Seville) so as to trace and visualize specific socio-spatial effects as a consequence of 2008 financial economic crisis through the analysis of platform urbanization. The results will be shown with the aim of collecting cases and comparing them, to obtain a broader frame to analyse the phenomenon.
Assuming this statement, the discourse regarding platform urbanism could be implemented and considered an additional tool to investigate inequalities in cities, giving relevance to place-based information and what it can possibly imply in a political economy perspective.

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