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Neoliberalization of Housing in Sweden: Gentrification, Filtering, and Social Polarization

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During the last twenty-five years, housing policy in Sweden has radically changed. Once forming a pillar of the comprehensive welfare system, abbreviated the “Swedish model,” neoliberal housing politics have established market-governed housing provision with a minimum of state engagement. This shift has had consequences on the social geography of housing conditions. The research reported here analyzes social geographic change in Sweden's three largest cities—Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö—between 1986 and 2001, relating observed patterns of gentrification and filtering to cycles of accumulation and to neoliberalization of housing policies. First, we outline the neoliberalization of Swedish housing policies. We then present an empirical analysis of gentrification and filtering in the three cities, spanning two boom periods (1986–1991, 1996–2001) and a bust period (1991–1996). The data reveal social geographic polarization manifested in the growth of supergentrification and low-income filtering. The analysis also introduces the concept of ordinary gentrification, supporting the move in gentrification research toward a broad generic conception of the process. Political reforms after 2001 are summarized and we argue that these underlie the continued increase in inequality and that the social geographic polarization mapped between 1986 and 2001 has probably intensified during this decade.

Keywords: Suecia; Sweden; filtering; filtrado, aburguesamiento; gentrification; housing policy; neoliberalism; neoliberalismo; políticas de vivienda

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Human Geography,Lund University, 2: Department of Social and Economic Geography and Centre for Population Studies,Umeå University,

Publication date: March 1, 2012


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