Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Social Housing–Housing the Social

Social Housing–Housing the Social is a two-day symposium in Amsterdam that emphasizes the relationship between the waning political and practical imperative of social housing and the broader conceptual or philosophical idea of housing the social. Given the increasing global conditions of unequal wealth distribution, and the specific urgency brought about by cuts in social and cultural funding in the Netherlands, can forms of cultural production be reclaimed as tools with which to design and defend social space, or are the agents and engineers of such projects merely tools in the further decoration of reduced welfare rights? What do we want cities to accommodate today? What is the legacy of the utopian ideals of the '60s and what alternative plans for living together in cities are being incubated now? How do we deal with the very real problems of social division brought about by poverty, migration, addiction, lack of representation? What roles do artists, designers, architects play in this process?
Contemporary capitalism in the West has promoted its growth on the ideal of house-ownership (with recent catastrophic financial effects) resulting in the reconceptualisation of public and private space. For this reason, social housing—the provision of homes for those on no or low income—is an idea destabilised through the shrinking of Welfare State models of social provision in Europe and the USA. In the Netherlands, a strong tradition of social housing is changing in light of new forms of privatisation and public private partnership; in other global locations housing is a political tool used to both maintain and produce new forms of power, new tools of both revolution and corruption. Populations are destabilized at a transnational scale; forced to move in search of a cheap, safe, affordable and secure ways of living. In this context does housing also emerge as a new division between global frameworks of provision?

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