Fighting Social Injustice in Spanish Cities: Social Innovation Practices Against Housing Evictions As a Response to the Current Housing Crisis

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Marisol GARCIA , Sociologial Theory, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Julie DE WEERDT , University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
This paper analyses the aftermath of the bursting of the housing bubble in Spain, which has left thousands of families without homes and indebted for life. In the first of two parts we look at contextually specific interactions between state regulation and market-oriented projects in Spain. This country is a salient case in which an economic recession and a debt crisis follow upon a long period of growth characterized by a housing bubble and a particular urban growth model. In this part we argue that central government has played a key role in framing fiscal incentives for housing ownership, and local and regional administrations have engaged in short-term forms of inter-spatial competition for public and private resources, place marketing and regulatory under-cutting in order to attract investment. In the second part, the paper examines the urban social movement “Platform in support of the evicted” (Plataforma Afectados por la Hipoteca – PAH) that, after starting in Barcelona, has spread to many other cities. The movement has created innovative strategies for housing accessibility and public and private governance in the housing market. These strategies include innovations at the local level and at national and European institutional levels. In this part we argue that social movements like the one we study are socially innovative when they aim at responding to social needs not met by the market and the state institutions. At the same time with their activism they transform the debate in the public sphere while prompting institutions to introduce new governance mechanisms and policy outcomes. The paper is the result of a research conducted under the umbrella of the COST Action IS 1102 (European Union RTD Framework Programme) during 2012 and 2013.