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Accepted Paper:

Wheels standing still: the mobile dwelling in present-day Europe  
Hege Leivestad (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork among British and Swedish caravan dwellers, this paper explores the interlinking relationship between the mobile home, property ownership and concerns about the “good life”.

Paper long abstract:

Mobile dwellings are familiar features of leisure life around Europe. But far less is known about these dwellings' transformations into "permanent" - and static - housing for the working- and lower middle class. Based on fieldwork among Britons and Swedes that have sold their homes and moved to a campsite, this paper looks at the relationship between the house as a socio-material category and human concerns about the "good life". While caravans are concealed behind cladded awnings and furnished terraces, caravan dwellers still tend to associate their life with one of mobility. By disentangling the domestic economy of a home on wheels, I examine the interrelations between property ownership, material downsizing and the notion of "freedom". Scrutinizing how caravans are deemed as temporary in national legislature and campsite policy, I furthermore point to the potential conflicts surrounding the category of the mobile dwelling. A caravan introduces a range of ambiguous issues to the creation and maintenance of a home, in terms of legal classifications, ownership and material standards. Classified as private property and not as real-estate, it falls into a range of legal voids that to its owners can be both advantageous and potentially risky. And while caravanners see the caravan as a relief from a "claustrophobic" house-lead life, caravan realities still trespass and challenge moral categorizations of "proper" Western homes.

Panel P006
The government of the house, 'life' and 'the good life'
  Session 1