Urban Studies > Urban Studies

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This chapter summarises the material of the book. It revisits some of its core theoretical themes, suggesting that there are openings within the fissures presented by rentier capitalism’s corrosion of community, and its densification of everyday life within dwindling space. The author argues that these openings incorporate alternative strategies of social reproduction that signal a ‘will to become’: a desire for generational reconfiguration borne from the erosion of ‘secure’ pathways to traditional kinship structures.

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This chapter looks at the ways that affective politics circulate within precarious rental accommodation, amidst constricted desires and difficulties in holding boundaries. Moving from a discussion of sexual constriction to feelings of ‘displaced sovereignty’ among respondents who are mistreated by, yet defend, controlling landlord behaviour, the chapter makes connections between capital’s constriction of embodied agency and the suppression of political subjectivity. In the second part of the chapter, the author explores the efforts of queer collective households to realign their homes with desire for social and political transformation, and the tensions and challenges experienced along the way.

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This chapter sets out the substantive content of the book and its broad themes of generational inequality, housing unaffordability and intimate relationships. The chapter includes an account of the author’s personal housing experiences and an overview of their critique of the nuclear family. The author connects the generational disjunctures posed by housing inequality to the diminishing political purchase of the home-owning family, identifying the precarious intimacies of the rented sector as fertile ground for exploring this historical moment in the history of capitalism. There is also a discussion of methods.

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This chapter explores the immaterial, affective and invisibilised labour that renting respondents carried out to replenish their relationships. It first focuses on the affective labour carried out by some social housing residents affected by intergenerational histories of racial capitalism – something the author terms ‘cumulative precarity’. The chapter goes on to explore the precarious relational labour involved in creating a sense of belonging in transient, privately rented homes, looking at relationships to home improvement and outdoor space.

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This chapter draws out the politics of renting respondents’ reproductive imaginaries, and how they speak to the different lives that can be made and remade amidst precarity. The chapter explores the assumed dependentlessness embedded in the transient temporalities and dense spaces of London renting, and examines the ways that both social and private tenants’ access to social reproduction is eroded by the formulation of housing as either investment or consumption. The final section of this chapter shifts focus from the reproduction of families to the reproduction of romantic relationships.

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Generation, Rent and Reproducing Relationships in London

In a time of increasing social and economic inequality, this book illustrates the precarity experienced by millennials facing both rising rents and wage stagnation. Featuring the voices of those with lived experience of precarity in north-east London, MacNeil Taylor focuses on intimacy, reproduction and emotional labour.

The book widens readers’ understanding of a middle-class ‘generation rent’ beyond those locked out of anticipated home ownership by considering both social and private renters. Situated in a feminist and queer theoretical framework, the book reveals the crucial role of British policy-making on housing, welfare, and immigration on deepening inter- and intra-generational inequality.

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This chapter provides a conceptual overview of the theoretical literature and research on precarity, intimacy and reproduction. It unites these concepts to formulate a theory of precarious intimacy as the ‘place between difficulty and desire’ in insecure rented accommodation. This chapter also offers a geo-historical account of the assetisation of housing in Britain and specifically in London, with emphasis on the imperialist politics undergirding this process.

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This chapter spotlights the cyclical interest, at a governmental level in England, in design governance, characterised by discrete periods of strong public oversight and relative market freedom. The chapter analyses the failure to deliver a consistent approach to place and housing quality over the last decade – a period in which the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s role in design scrutiny was ended while greater ‘market freedoms’ arrived in the form of an extension of permitted development rights. It notes that while permitted development rights are producing the ‘slums of the future’, a conservative ‘beauty’ ethic that will affect future planned development has been re-rooted in the Office for Place, marking the standard cyclical return to design oversight, though one that leans heavily on traditional urbanism. The chapter argues that the return of oversight, albeit in a very different form, might be cautiously welcomed if it can be evolved to correct at least some of the failings of design governance that have become apparent in the last decade.

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The conclusion reviews the findings of the other chapters and returns to a question set up in the introduction, asking whether the issues in planning in England reflect: failings of the planning system, profession and ‘discipline’; failings of the state within which planning has to operate (which then uses planning as a scapegoat for its own failure to deliver); or a combination of both state and planning failure. The conclusion then identifies four cross-cutting themes that recur in the preceding chapters, those of rhetoric, rapidity (of reform), resourcing (or the lack of) and regressive outcomes. Across these four themes, the conclusion summarises how UK government (in)action has caused or exacerbated problems with the operation of the English planning system, and represents an unprecedented failure of that government to design and implement a functioning planning system.

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It is widely reported that since the latter decades of the 20th century, there has been an annual shortfall in the number of new homes constructed relative to housing demand. The planning system has often been accused of being the primary cause of this shortage by governments of different political complexions. It is blamed for restricting housing supply and increasing house prices, and for acting as a drag on the free market delivering housing. Yet, it is not clear that planning is the root cause of these problems, and planning is rarely celebrated for its achievements in enabling the nation’s housing. We frame changes in planning policy that have occurred since 2010 in light of longer-term housing trends in England to ask whether state planning for housing has failed.

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