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The Problem of Rent: One-day Symposium

THE PROBLEM OF RENT brings together contributors to the recently published Rent and its Discontents: A Century of Housing Struggle and housing activists.

Friday 8th March, 10.00-17.00.

Room 2.01, Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh

Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP.

With the private rented sector dramatically expanding parallel to the erosion of public housing, the question of rent has re-emerged as a crucial topic in political discourse and practice. Far from being a secondary contradiction behind workplace contestation, housing is now central to most national political economies, as the sub-prime crisis of 2007-2008 made abundantly clear. Housing costs form the most onerous reproductive burden on working lives, undermining the wage and demanding that more time is consumed by work. Rent nurtures a parasitic finance class and both represents and undergirds the reification of atomised private property relations. As such, the problem of rent, and the problem of housing more generally, must necessarily be central to contemporary anti-capitalist contestation.

These issues are addressed in this one-day symposium, bringing together the editor, Neil Gray, and contributing authors to the recently published book Rent and its Discontents: A Century of Housing Struggle (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018). The book stands as a timely intervention into current housing debates, informed by the historic housing question, and will provide a starting point for a wider discussion of the specific role of rent in housing and the wider economy and the means by which rent, and rentiers, are being challenged.  

The programme will include a morning of short chapter presentations from contributors to the book and invited housing activists, with particular reference to the theme of rent, and the afternoon will be dedicated to a panel discussion, Q and A and audience discussion informed by the following themes:

  • Theorising rent: limitations and horizons
  • Organising rent contestation: process and practice

Confirmed speakers (more speakers may follow)

  • Hamish Kallin (University of Edinburgh - Co-organiser)
  • Neil Gray (University of Glasgow, Living Rent - Co-organiser)
  • Tom Slater (University of Edinburgh)
  • Vickie Cooper (Open University)
  • Kirsteen Paton (University of Liverpool)
  • Emma Saunders (University of Edinburgh, Living Rent)
  • Sean Baillie (Living Rent)
  • Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London)

The symposium is free of charge and limited places are available. Please let Hamish Kallin ([email protected]) and Neil Gray ([email protected]) know if you would like to attend. The venue is fully accessible and lunch will be provided.

Copies of Rent and its Discontents: A Century of Housing Struggle will be available at a reduced price of £15.00 (waged) and £10 .00 (unwaged/low wage).

Kindly supported by the School of Geosciences through the Research in Geography and the Lived Environment Small Grants Fund.

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