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Department of Social Anthropology


Dr Ryan Davey (University of Bristol)

‘Snakes and ladders’: legal coercion, housing precarity and home-making aspirations in England

Potential eviction is an ordinary condition of domestic life for many in Europe and North America. This poses a challenge to anthropological theories of the state’s presence in ordinary homes, which have accounted for public housing and forced displacement, but not liberalized settings where the state has ostensibly withdrawn from the home. Studies of housing precarity identify state policy and capitalist transformation among its sources, but the consequences of housing precarity for domesticity itself have not been fully explored. Among private renters on a housing estate in England, the bleak prospect of eviction propelled home-making pursuits that would instil a sense of optimism, including mortgage-based ownership and immersive home entertainment technology. By examining the interplay between fears of eviction and home-making aspirations, this article argues that the British state’s organisation of legitimate coercion has a subtle but significant influence on tenants’ ethical visions of what constitutes a good home.


Thursday, 16 May, 2019 - 17:00 to 18:00
Event location: 
Edmund Leach Seminar Room, Dept of Social Anthropology, Free School Lane