The single-family home: detecting the cultural impact of a Fordist heritage 
Elisabeth Timm (University of Münster (Germany))
Ingrid Tomkowiak (University of Zurich)
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VG 3.104
Start time:
27 March, 2017 at 16:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

The single-family home materializes popular dreams of the Fordist era. While family life is undergoing deep changes, and planners are wondering how to deal with all the vacant houses, affirmative images and narratives of the detached house still occupy everyday imagination and practice worldwide.

Long Abstract

The single-family home is a vast material and cultural heritage from the Fordist decades of the 20th century. It has promised and symbolized prosperity, a tangible asset and good familial order, regardless of how excluding the accompanying policies have been.

At the same time, the single-family home also has been contested: it demands large amounts of land and other resources, and is related to mass car ownership. Being confronted with the change from local, male breadwinner families to new forms of multilocal generational living, traditional social ontologies are collapsing. Yet, as planning research reveals, efforts to encourage other forms of dwelling regularly fail. Small towns especially are continuously producing areas full of these "little boxes", also critically referred to, especially in US popular culture.

Ethnographic and historical-anthropological insights are extremely valuable in shedding light on how the single-family home was established and why it still persists. Other than the USA, Britain and Australia — so-called "home-owner societies"— the suburbs of Europe have not been a particular focus of research so far, apart from Pierre Bourdieu's seminal work "Der Einzige und sein Eigenheim" (1998).

We are inviting proposals for empirically strong papers, e.g.:

• How, in the context of changing welfare regimes, is house-ownership being encouraged among the poor and in precarious milieus?

• How does the familial experience of the Fordist decade interfere with current housing practices?

• Are there any relations to forms which seem to be more deeply rooted in history, e.g. to the popular and scientific myth of the "ganzes Haus"?

Accepted papers: