New research project: The Homes the City Built (Stadens kåkar)

A new research project at the Institute of Urban History, Stockholm University, has been approved for funding by the Olle Engkvist Foundation.

The project focuses on local, municipal welfare practices during the period roughly from 1840 to 1940. The cases studied are municipal housing policies and procedures in Stockholm. Housing has historically been an ambiguous welfare issue, with social housing policy varying wildly nationally and locally. Various private actors (philanthropic, cooperative, speculative and combinations of these) were engaged in providing social housing solutions. There was a lot of reluctance towards the idea of the city as a housing provider and landlord, but despite this, the direct intervention of Stockholm City grew over the decades, especially in periods of acute crisis such as in the 1870s and late 1910s to 1920s. Temporary solutions became more and more permanent and the city became a large land- and property owner.

The social housing system in Sweden eventually became focused on municipally owned rental units. It is the argument of this project that this can be traced to the social housing practices that emerged on the local city level during the 19th century and that the welfare cities’ housing practices thus can be viewed as precursors to the welfare state housing programs. Welfare was local before it became national and the welfare practices of the city affected its understanding of itself and its relation to its inhabitants.

This project aims at 1.) examining the policies and practices of Stockholm concerning shelters and temporary housing measures, looking especially at the notion of publicness, the question of whether public or private (profit and non-profit driven) actors should provide and manage social housing. 2.) examining the solutions provided through these practices, expected tenants compared to actual tenants, and how the tenants acted to further their interests. 3.) to examine the links between local and national housing policy during the period.

The project is a part of the ongoing research on historical welfare cities at the Department of History, Stockholm University.

Heiko Droste, Hannes Rolf
New research project: The Homes the City Built (Stadens kåkar)
Institute of Urban History, Stockholm University.

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