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Maintenance and repair of old urban buildings as ‘politics of tradition’: experiences from a Swedish modernist context

Conference contribution
Authors Ingrid Martins Holmberg
Elena Bogdanova
Published in SIEF2017 13th Congress, Ways of dwelling. Göttingen, Germany: 26–30 March 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Department of Conservation
Language en
Links www.nomadit.co.uk/sief/sief2017/pan...
Subject categories Cultural Studies, Settlement studies, Technology and social change

Abstract

This paper presents research on ordinary contexts of 'maintenance, mending and repair' of houses, homes and buildings, which may be seen as bearers and upholders of endurance and socio-material cohesion. The practices of maintenance, mending and repair mediate temporality (enhancing the past-in the present, for the future) in a way that indicates an a-modern and anti-modernist production of the material world. They are what Thrift (2009) referred to as 'glue' amounting to a resource in the face of the anthropocene. These contexts of concern comprise laypersons or officers providing particular knowledge and skills, as well as craftsmen/women. Theoretically our research is framed by the concept of "orders of worth" developed by (Boltanski and Thèvenot 1999). Instead of considering taken-for-granted routine interactions and conflict resolution, we approach the modes of justification, institutionally linked discourses embodying specific orientations generating actions and evaluation, as well as "regimes of engagement" (Thèvenot 2007). Empirically, we aim to identify the core sets of values and meanings of mending, maintenance and repair of buildings, and their interplay. We will evaluate the contribution of these core values in their material entanglement and in relation to the global challenges of sustainability and the survival of the earth. Moreover, we aim to frame the common contexts of 'mending, maintenance and repair' in terms of ethics. In particular, we will explore how the experience of repair may entail a capacity for reconciliation, sharing features with ethical and political decisions -- material, social and emotional attachment.

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