Occupied, Unoccupied, Inhabited, Inhabitable: Sociological Dimensions of Housing Categorization

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Stephanie CASSILDE, Centre d’Études en Habitat Durable, Belgium
This communication deals with the lability of categorizations and its articulation with the research question. The research context is related to the future designed by a public policy aiming at being able to identify unoccupied housing to offer solutions regarding the lack of housing. The primary objective is creating, testing and validating a methodology to do so, and understanding why these housing are unoccupied. The data were collected in Charleroi, Belgium, between June 2014 and February 2015.

At the first sight, language is primary both researched and unresearched as the identification of given, labeled, situation (unoccupied housing) is implemented without researching the (unexpected) diversity that might be related to it. The landlords are contacted on the basis of low water or electricity consumption for the concerned housing. During the research, several landlords refused categorizing the concerned housing as unoccupied, but agree for instance in categorizing this housing as uninhabited. Also, several landlords, immediately after having underlined that the concerned housing was in fact occupied, were asking what would be the consequences in the case the concerned housing would have been unoccupied. The objective of this communication is to shed light on what is as stake through this, including a critical analysis of the consequence of having missed to include from the beginning the issue of language in the research. Thus, a secondary analysis of the data was implemented and focused on the sociological dimension of language to understand when, who, and why landlords shifted from a label to another. The results help to reframe the research question and give more insight regarding the results of the primary research.