HOME As Rent. Platform Economy, Short-TERM Rentals and the Commodification of Housing in Contemporary Italy.

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Giovanni SEMI, Università di Torino, Italy
The commodification of housing has always been considered a specific problematic in early sociological analysis, especially central in Engels analysis of ‘the housing question’. While the Twentieth Century had a major role in decommodifying housing via the provision of public estates for mass citizens, thus creating specific national equilibriums (also known as ‘postwar social contracts’), the neoliberal turn that started in the late Seventies and the recent development of the so-called ‘platform economy’ dramatically alters post WWII equilibriums.

In order to provide a deep analysis of the shift towards homes as real estate, we will select a specific case-study allowing to take into account the financialization of housing through platform economy: the Italian way to Airbnb and similar home rental providers. Drawing on the peculiar nexus between homeownership, social stratification and generations, our aim is to sketch the longstanding historical process that put actual middle-class households in condition to use their estates as income providers. After 2007, both global financial straits and economic recessive and fiscal policies pushed Italian households to embrace the sharing ideology becoming home renters. Relying on a fieldwork started in 2013 in several Italian cities we will provide a detailed, qualitative analysis of the nexus between class, housing and the shaping of new social inequalities.