Uprisings and urban poverty – the Chilean neoliberal experiment in checkmate?

Authors: Irene Molina*, Uppsala Universty
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Social Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: poverty, protest, segregation, housing, neoliberalism, Chile
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Governors Square 17, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Current mobilizations against the regime in Chile are expressions of the accumulation of consequences of extreme urban inequalities. The intensification of urban social and racial segregation in the period of exacerbated neoliberalism initiated brutally as a chock with the military coup on 9/11 1973 (Klein 2007), lies behind the increasing mobilizations in the country. Posterior regimes have maintained and intensified the neoliberal model with jobs, pensions, housing, education and health being the five sectors mostly affected by precariousness and privatization (Solimano 2012). In this article, I will take the changes occurred in in the housing sector as a point of departure, showing how the full privatization of urban land and housing provision and the financialization of the housing sector have resulted in disproportionally rising housing prices in relation to the augment of salaries – 67% resp. 24% in the last seven years (Fuster-Farfán & Toro 2019), and household indebtedness, which put families in situations of extreme poverty, sometimes in spite of being homeowners and/or having paid jobs. Nevertheless, citizens have become experts on handling and fighting poverty (Roy et al 2016); their resolute activism should be understood not only as the expression of desperate masses, but rather as a political strategy to change the course of history. The research builds on analysis of interviews with housing and urban activists, and archival and statistical analysis. The aim is to shed light on urban inequality as the fuel that ignited the spark of the social fire that we are witnessing today.

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