1) describe the housing experience as expressed by the tenants themselves and
2) identify social inequalities in housing that are reflected in the accounts of their experiences.
To do this, we turn to the notion of “social experience” in order to identify unequal social relations through a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews and over 100 hours of observation with a Montréal housing committee.
Housing appears to be inseparable from the spaces that contextualise it.
An analysis of the tenants’ accounts of social experiences allowed us to categorize them as belonging to three types of challenges: relational, financial and spatial. For each of these challenges, we analysed the unequal social relations through which they are constructed using a conception of inequalities that identifies the appropriation processes present in social interactions.
We identify three types of relations: 1) exploitation, the appropriation by others of the capacity to produce and reproduce; 2) exclusion and segregation, the monopolistic appropriation of territories and resources; and 3) symbolic violence, the appropriation by others of the capacity to think and to decide.
Two main conclusions can be drawn from our dissertation. First, the housing experience is primarily a spatial challenge. Given that housing is inseparable from the spaces that contextualise it, the financial and relational challenges serve mainly to give substance to the spatial challenge. Second, we learned how unequal social relations are constructed through interactions between tenants and other housing actors. This finding leads us to give more importance to “symbolic violence” as a process of production of social inequality, in so far as it makes the other processes acceptable or even invisible to tenants.
Renaud Goyer, Université de Montréal
Research report (dissertation)
Deposit of the research report: July 2018