Pressure and violence: Housing renovation and displacement in Sweden

Guy Baeten, Sara Westin, Emil Pull, Irene Molina

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Based on interview material relating to the current wave of housing renovation in Swedish cities, this article will analyse the profit-driven, traumatic and violent displacement in the wake of contemporary large-scale renovation processes of the so-called Million Program housing estates from the 1960s and 1970s. We maintain that the current form of displacement (through renovation) has become a regularized profit strategy, for both public and private housing companies in Sweden. We will pay special attention to Marcuse’s notion of ‘displacement pressure’ which refers not only to actual displacement but also to the anxieties, uncertainties, insecurities and temporalities that arise from possible displacement due to significant rent increases after renovation and from the course of events preceding the actual rent increase. Examples of the many insidious forms in which this pressure manifests itself will be given – examples that illustrate the hypocritical nature of much planning discourse and rhetoric of urban renewal. We illustrate how seemingly unspectacular measures and tactics deployed in the renovation processes have far-reaching consequences for tenants exposed to actual or potential displacement. Displacement and displacement pressure due to significant rent increases (which is profit-driven but justified by invoking the ‘technical necessity’ of renovation) undermines the ‘right to dwell’ and the right to exert a reasonable level of power over one’s basic living conditions, with all the physical and mental benefits that entails – regardless of whether displacement fears materialize in actual displacement or not.
TidsskriftEnvironment and Planning A
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)631-651
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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