How Relations between Neighbors Are Changing in an Environment of Redevelopment: Housing Inequalities and a Sense of Injustice

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Elizaveta Polukhina


This article is based on the concept of material culture, which reveals the role of material objects in the social world. It shows how the urban environment changes the relationship between neighbors who share a common yard but live in housing of different types—in khrushchevki (the Soviet-era housing) or in new high-rise buildings. The article depicts a hierarchical material environment in the common space formed because of a municipal renovation program involving the gradual demolition of old housing and the redevelopment of the area with new dwellings. Material used in this article was collected in Moscow in 2019, through a case study of a yard shared by several building; the study involved interviews with 17 residents and concierges of the area and multiple observation sessions.
The article shows that the long-pending demolition of a khrushchevka and the destruction of the common yard space caused conflict and resulted in hierarchical courtyard materiality and housing inequalities. This created a perception of the khrushchevka residents as a “stigmatized” group and strained their relationships with neighbors in the new buildings. The hierarchical housing environment as a structural materiality forms and maintains multidimensional aspects of housing inequalities—spatial, social class–based, and symbolic dimensions.
As interpretative and analytical framework, the article uses Wendy Bottero’s notion of the sense of inequality, which is understood as an emotion that develops from hierarchical relationships. On the basis of the empirical date, this article elaborates on Bottero’s idea and explains why, in this situation, it is more appropriate to call this social emotion “a sense of injustice,” referencing society’s ideas about what is proper. Therefore, structural housing inequality is a condition for the emergence of an intersubjective sense of injustice as a social consequence of this situation.

Article in English


Neighboring, Housing Inequalities, Khrushchevka, Common Yard, Sense of Injustice, Housing Justice

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