Accepted paper:

"To Own or Not to Own". Post-socialist Housing Policy and Regimes of Staying, Moving and Settling in Prague, Czech Republic


Michal Lehecka (Charles University in Prague)

Paper short abstract:

Post-socialist ownership liberalization, the ethos of privatism and absence of official housing policy created "new" urban vulnerables: the non-owners. Focusing on various regimes of in/out, local/global and owner/non-owner, the paper will examine the specificities of housing market in Prague.

Paper long abstract:

In the course of 2016, housing prices in Prague started to grow rapidly, as a result of long-term pressure generated by various factors such as stagnation of construction industry, a constant influx of newcomers, speculations, shared economy platforms, etc. These globally embedded processes brought to light almost forgotten urban vulnerables: the non-owners. Those who were not lucky and rich enough to buy a flat became suddenly threatened by the housing market instability.

Prague's current housing situation emerged from the post-socialist way of ownership liberalization and deregulation, often labelled as a regime of privatism (Hirt 2012). After the 40-year period of state-driven socialist ownership, 1990's and 2000's privatization transformed approx. 90% of housing stock into a private property. Private ownership was thus rediscovered as a component of social status while simultaneously both city and the state abandoned any pro-active housing policy.

Based on fieldwork conducted on peripheries of Prague, my presentation will focus on various forms of housing vulnerability in Prague. A situation of 40 year old non-owner, mother of two children, who was forced to move out from suburban housing estate and resettle in the countryside, will be confronted with the strategies and practices of the "newcomers" - post-Soviet region immigrants who are moving in and settling or even buying flats in similar suburban housing estates. Examined through individual spatialities, temporalities, and hybrid regimes of in/out, local/global, owner/non-owner the paper will reveal the ways of staying, moving and settling in the context of overheated post-socialist housing market.

panel P127
Vulnerability and housing policies: anthropological insights across Europe