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Extracting Rent from the Life Course: The “Generationed” Nature of Class Monopoly Rent in the Student Housing Submarket

Authors: Nicholas Revington*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: rent, life course, studentification, intergenerationality
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Studentification – the concentration of students within a particular urban neighbourhood and associated impacts, including disruption and displacement of incumbent residents – represents a “generationed” or age-segregated housing submarket defined on the basis of a distinct life course stage. I analyze this submarket through the lens of David Harvey’s concept of class monopoly rent, a critical theory of residential submarkets, by drawing on semi-structured interviews with both key informants and students in Waterloo, Ontario. As Canada’s largest private purpose-built student accommodation market, the city is home to almost half of this type of development in the country. Planning interventions, real estate strategies, and neighbourhood politics have intertwined to enable the extraction of class monopoly rent from a clearly delineated student housing submarket. This submarket structure has resulted in the exploitation of student tenants through higher housing costs, exposure to market volatility, and other abuses. Consequently, studentification, and the age segregation it entails, is both produced by and serves to reproduce capitalist urbanization. However, rather than merely enabling an intensified extraction of rent from residential real estate across a widening spectrum of the life course – from student housing to retirement and long-term care facilities – this case illustrates the importance of the life course itself in capital’s quest to capture rent. A radical political response to the impacts of studentification on students and other residents alike must therefore adopt an intergenerational perspective that confronts both class and life course dimensions of the process simultaneously.

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