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Untitled Document
Housing, Migration and Family Dynamics

Proposed in 2014, established in 2016


Rory Coulter
UCL Department of Geography
University College London
London, UK
Tomáš Samec (main contact)
Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Prague, Czech Republic
Michael Thomas
Faculty of Spatical Sciences
University of Groningen
Groningen, The Netherlands

Overview and themes
The Housing and Family Dynamics Working Group (WG), in early January 2019 renamed Housing, Migration and Family Dynamics, was established in 2014 to provide a forum for the dissemination and discussion of research examining how families interact with housing systems. Both WG coordinators are currently working on externally funded research projects concerned with this theme (for full details please see our project websites:
http://ftht.sociology.cam.ac.uk/ and https://partnerlifeproject.org/. As work on housing and family dynamics is very diverse and is often spread thinly across fields and disciplines, an important goal of the WG is to provide a collegial network which brings together researchers with varied expertise to exchange ideas, findings and insights about the links between families and housing. Examples of research conducted by members of the WG includes, but is certainly not confined to, the following areas:

  • Quantitative research examining how demographic events such as leaving the parental home, childbirth or changes in partnerships are linked to housing transitions in different countries.
  • Studies of family relations and housing pathways - including work exploring intergenerational social mobility within housing systems, practices of family support in housing markets, and the socialisation of housing aspirations/preferences.
  • Analyses of the ways in which family life is affected by housing conditions, design and systems of housing welfare and support.
  • Theoretical and applied research drawing on constructionist perspectives, discourse analysis and/or innovative participatory research methods to understand family practices and relational interactions within housing systems.
The WG functions primarily as a network and has a mailing list with roughly 45 members, which is 10 more than in 2016. The activities planned for 2018 and our past activities over the last year are described in the next sections of this report.

Future plans
In 2018, we plan to organize a strand of workshop sessions at the ENHR annual conference in Uppsala. We have carried over our plan from the previous year to hold a themed joint session with the Migration, Residential Mobility and Neighbourhood Change Working Group. Unfortunately, this could not be organized in Tirana. This joint project is currently under discussion and will be TBC soon.

We plan to refine our workshop session format ('interactive presentation and discussion'), which we piloted during the ENHR 2017 Tirana conference. While some participants highly appreciated the new format, others who could not submit papers for various reasons felt it to be a little restrictive. We therefore aim to offer two modes of presenting and two kind of session in Uppsala. First, the conventional format where people present their papers and then the floor is opened to questions and discussion. Second, we plan to also use the intensive discussion format and work more closely with the participants and discussants in order to engage them more thoroughly in the preparation of comprehensive feedback. Workshop participants will then be given the choice to select which mode of presentation suits them best before the conference (after decisions about abstract acceptance).

Another Working Group meeting is currently in the preparation phase for the beginning of May 2018 in Prague. Tomáš Samec has applied for funding of a workshop for early-career researchers from Czech Academy of Science (covering all but travel cost of the participation for attendees and organizers). The working title of the workshop is 'New Housing Challenges: Families and Financialization'. This event will aim to bring together PhD students and post-doc researchers from within and beyond the ENHR Working Group. We expect to invite 10-12 participants and focus on the changing role of the family in the increasingly financialized provision of housing.

Past activities
In 2017, we organised a strand of workshop sessions at the ENHR 2017 annual conference in Tirana. At these sessions, we trialled a new interactive and discussion oriented format for the presentation of submitted research papers. This aimed to build on the intensive discussions that took place during the workshops organized at the 2015 ENHR Conference in Lisbon and the 2016 ENHR Conference in Belfast. Overall, we ran three sessions in Tirana with seven presenters and five submitted full papers. The presentation topics covered a number of wide-ranging themes including housing careers and life course transitions; (changing) housing norms, family practices and non-traditional families; and also families' adaptations to housing risks and vulnerabilities.

Beyond Tirana, both Rory Coulter and Michael Thomas were involved in the organisation of the 'Partnerlife' International Workshop on Family Dynamics and Housing in the Life Course. This event was held in St Andrews on May 18-19th and brought together an international audience of academics, practitioners and policy professionals to discuss issues of concern relating to housing and family dynamics. Rory Coulter also organised a policy workshop on 'Young adults' housing: Changing choices, constraints and challenges' in London on September 12th 2017. At this event 25 invited academics and stakeholders discussed the current housing difficulties of young people and how these could be tackled.

Policy implications
An important goal of the WG is to bring policy more deeply into research on housing and families. Papers discussing family and housing policy developments are always welcome at workshop sessions. Past examples of policy relevant work undertaken by group members include:

  • Work on how men and women’s housing careers are affected differently by separation.
  • Studies of the transmission of inequality between generations through EU housing systems (for example through family assistance to enter homeownership in young adulthood).
  • The ways in which family relations and family formation are influenced by housing and welfare systems.