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Networked Social Movements and the Politics of Mortgage: From the Right to Housing to the Assault on Institutions

Chapter in book
Authors Eva Álvarez de Andrés
Patrik Zapata
María José Zapata Campos
Published in Lessons from the Great Recession: At the Crossroads of Sustainability and Recovery (Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, Volume 18)
Pages 231-249
ISSN 2051-5030
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Publication year 2016
Published at School of Public Administration
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 231-249
Language en
Keywords Sustainability; social movements; housing; Recession; economic crisis; mortgage
Subject categories Business Administration, Sociology, Public Administration Studies


Purpose: In the aftermath of the Great Recession, over 500,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain’s property market crashed in 2008. The response of Spanish local communities has been the emergence of a networked social movement, Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), endeavouring to build a more sustainable future through upholding the right to housing. This chapter examines the ability of the PAH social movement to uphold the right to housing and prompt social and institutional change in Spain. Methodology/approach: This is a single-case study of the PAH social movement in Spain. The data are of three types: texts, photos, and films disseminated via the mass media, social networks, and PAH websites; informal conversations with PAH participants from Barcelona and Madrid; and observations and personal interviews held in two local PAH groups, that is, Móstoles and Elche. Findings: In this chapter, first we explore the birth of PAH and its later spread from Barcelona to hundreds of cities in Spain and beyond, as a social reaction to the economic recession and decisions made by political, administrative, and financial institutions in response to the economic crisis. Then, by analysing the internal dynamics of two PAH groups, we discuss how networked social movements such as PAH can create spaces of citizenship that challenge taken-for-granted principles of capitalism, prompting social change. Finally, we uncover how, due to PAH’s advocacy work addressing a structural lack of emergency and social housing, the Spanish public administration is developing new roles and allocating new resources to guarantee the right to housing, a social policy area historically neglected in Spain. Practical implications: New social housing offices are being established in municipalities in Spain as a result of PAH’s advocacy work. Originality/value: The strengthening of social capital and movements in the aftermath of the economic crisis has the ability to prompt investment in social areas such as housing.

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