CfP: Lived Experience and Reputation in Twentieth-century Mass Housing (EAUH 2016)

We invite paper proposals for a session at the EAUH 2016: At Home in the “Concrete Jungle”: Lived Experience and Reputation in Twentieth-century Mass Housing (Session M33)

European Association for Urban History
13th International Conference on Urban History
Helsinki, 24-27 August 2016

Deadline: October 31, 2015

Session Organizers:
Laura Falender, University of Oslo, Norway
Sebastian Haumann, TU Darmstadt, Germany

In studies of twentieth-century mass housing estates and “new towns,” many scholars have examined the production end: the planning, design, and construction of new housing projects. Less attention has been given to the consumption side: the lived experience in new social and spatial housing environments, and ways in which these areas were interpreted and established (often negative) reputations. Indeed, a tension between the disparate accounts of the consumption side—the residents’ accounts of community-formation on the one hand, and outsiders’ condemnations of “concrete jungles” and “soulless suburbs” on the other—has been characteristic. In many ways, this tension has shaped life within and the policies concerning housing estates until today.
The purpose of this session is to initiate a comparative debate on the experiential and interpretative realm of mass housing in the twentieth century. We invite papers from any disciplinary background to consider this tension between experience and reputation. Questions that papers might consider include:
• Why did architects’ and politicians’ intentions for new mass housing not translate into broad public acceptance or enthusiasm?
• Which were the crucial historical junctures for the divergence of experience and reputation?
• What actors were involved in establishing a local “sense of place” in new housing developments, or in building negative reputations?
• How did insider- and outsider-produced narratives compare in terms of themes, reasoning and rhetoric?
• What consequences arose from tensions between lived experience and reputation?
While most of the questions appear to be relevant for all “Western” societies, hinting at major commonalities, answers will differ considerably. A great variation in terms of the nature of the state (e.g. liberal, social-democratic); the size, accessibility, and potential regulation of the private housing market; and the class context in which mechanisms of social sorting related to housing occurred, existed throughout Western Europe and North America. By reflecting on commonalities and differences we expect to clarify key factors and turning points in the contentious history of mass housing estates.

To submit a paper proposal, please create a user account on the conference management system and upload your abstract (Max. 300 Words) to session M33. The deadline for paper proposals is October 31, 2015. We will inform you by December 15 about the acceptance of your proposal.

For further information on the EAUH conference, please visit the conference website at:

Neue Veröffentlichung: “Bürgerinitiative für preiswerten Wohnraum”

Mitte Oktober 2014 neu erschienen ist Band 28 des Schweizerischen Jahrbuchs für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte mit dem Titel “Wohnen und die Ökonomie des Raums – L’habitat et l’économie de l’espace”. Der Band geht auf eine Tagung zurück, die im Mai 2011 in Bern stattfand. In meinem Beitrag ziehe ich einen transatlantischen Vergleich zwischen den unterschiedlichen Strategien, die zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren einschlugen, um für den Erhalt preiswerten Wohnraums in innenstadtnahen Wohngebieten zu sorgen. Die neighborhood organizations der USA setzten dabei insgesamt eher auf direkte Interventionen im Immobilienmarkt, während bundesdeutsche Gruppen den Weg über die kommunalpolitische Regulierung wählten. In der öffentlichen Debatte der letzten Jahre (“Mietpreisbremse”) ist das Thema wieder sehr aktuell geworden – ein Blick in die Geschichte lohnt!

Bürgerinitiative für preiswerten Wohnraum. Zivilgesellschaftliche Strategien in den USA und West-Deutschland, 1960–1990, in: Schweizerisches Jahrbuch für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte
28 (2014), S. 295-313.

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