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Informal Housing in Hungary: History and Present Practices

Conference contribution
Authors Agnes Gagyi
Andras Vigvari
Published in Informal Housing and Property Rights in the Countries of the Former Soviet Bloc workshop, University of Zurich
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Subject categories Sociology, Social and Economic Geography, History


Alike other semi-peripheral countries, occupations and informal dwelling constitute an organic part of housing history in Hungary. Relying on local sociological and historical literature, as well as on comparative literature on semi-peripheral informal housing, we give a historical overview on the role of informal housing in Hungary, arguing that a reliance on self-building, informal dwelling and occupations has historically functioned as a way of outsourcing social reproduction costs in the conditions of semi-peripheral world-market integration. Urban informal slums feeding the industrialization wave of the 19​ th​ century, rural self-building with state loans and urban informal slums built by work migrants during the socialist period, post-socialist forms of social squatting, combinations of self-building and mutual help with bank loans, as well as informal forms of dwelling created by those expulsed from their homes by contemporary market dynamics all constitute such cases. Looking at the contemporary case of the transformation of a former socialist dacha house area to a zone of informal dwelling in the Eastern agglomeration of Budapest, we demonstrate how subsequent waves of market expulsions during post-socialist privatization, the 2009 mortgage crisis, and a contemporary surge in rent prices generated a response by households to rely on self-building and informal solutions.

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