CALL FOR PAPERS, PACO 14(1 bis): 2021


Call for paper for the Special issue on:

“The value of the city. Rent extraction, housing and conflicts for the use of urban space”.

Guest Editors:

Sonia Arbaci, University College London

Massimo Bricocoli, Politecnico di Milano

Angelo Salento, Università del Salento

Giovanni Semi, Università di Torino


Call for Papers:

In Europe, the housing and financial condition of a large number of families has significantly changed since the welfare restructuring of the 1990s, but it was the global financial crisis of 2008, driven by the speculative real estate bubble and related financial derivatives, that brought the deepening housing issues to light and onto the political agenda. Similarly, the housing debate started to take a central stage also in social science. Not only has attention to housing problems increased, but the analytical frames have also changed. Traditionally, housing problems have been interpreted as a consequence of the residualisation of housing policies, as the weakest part of welfare systems, or the inelasticity of both the housing and land market allegedly due to excessive regulation (see debate in Lowe 2011). “Housing-as-policy has been the preserve of social policy analysis and of a growing field of housing studies; housing-as-market has been confined to mainstream economics” (Aalbers and Christophers, 2014, 373). In the last ten years, joining the call by European scholars to re-center the housing question in political economy, there has been a paradigm shift in interpreting housing issues as the outcome of the processes of exploitation of urban space.

Sociological literature on housing (Power, 1993; Aalbers, 2008; Santos Ana et al., 2015) distinguishes three periods since Post-War II: an era of embedded liberalism (or the era of Fordist compromise), a neo-liberal era (also referred to as the post-Fordist one), and a post-crisis period. One of the most important features of the first phase was the strong politicization of housing problems and the force of claims regarding the right to housing. Crucially, at this stage, the very use of urban land as a source of unearned income was questioned. The neo-liberal era was, on the contrary, one of depoliticisation (Foster 2014) of housing, during which the use of urban land was rather a field of action for strongly legitimized financial actors rather than an object of political engagement (Flinders and Wood, 2014; Hay, 2014).

Finally, in the post-crisis period, the depoliticisation of housing continues, reparative welfare policies are meant to be the only source of public housing provision while the main source of change is a stream of social innovation that rarely calls into question the very bases of rent-seeking in urban space. Housing hardship, experienced especially in large and medium-sized cities, is too simply linked to the purchase (or rent) price of dwellings. But the purchase and rental price of housing is much more closely tied to the value of the land than to the value of the house itself. The value of the land (and therefore of the house) is a positional one; it depends on the city and the neighborhood in which the building is located, rather than on the material quality of the building. It is for this reason that there is an often huge discrepancy between the replacement of insurance for the purposes of the home and the actual market price it commands. (Ryan-Collins, Lloyd, Macfarlane 2017, p. 6). Though often neglected in the literature, housing problems are intrinsically entangled with land rent extraction and it is thus paramount to understand how the (socially produced) value of land is captured by the state, the market or the non-profit sector, and reveal the conflictual relations among actors and institutions, particularly in the context of intense financialization (Aalbers, 2008; Belotti and Caselli, 2016; Haila, 2015; Kaika and Ruggiero, 2016; Pinson and Journel, 2016; Rolnik, 2013; Weber, 2010). The issue of urban rent — a question that had gained political relevance in the Fordist decades, but was then substantially forgotten — is again becoming a focus of debate in social sciences, with variations. Transformations of urban planning are regaining centrality as object of research, and planners and policy-makers have increasingly joined the debate on how to overcome the drifts of urban planning in the neoliberal era.

This special issue aims to give an account of this new awareness and therefore to address the issue not only in terms of the analysis of the housing situation and the crisis of social housing policies. The relation between drivers, conflicts, resistance and the regulation of the real estate market as a political process is a key theme on which we aim to collect contributions and specifically on:

-        conflicts over the use of urban space, the perspectives of movements for the right to housing, political criticisms of rent dynamics and proposals for regulation;

-        the processes of rent extraction that underlie displacement, homelessness and the marginalisation of housing conditions;

-        the role of planning in the face of urban conflicts, and of the city as a competitive player;

-        conflicts and resistances over the financialization of the real estate sector;

-        the role of gentrification, turistification and platformization of short rental market (so-called ‘airification’) in the conflicts over urban space;

-        innovative urban policies and regulations tackling rent-seeking (considering their political bases, their achievements, their limits and failures);

-        social innovation in the housing sector and rent extraction dynamics.

We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions.

Abstracts shall include:(1) A description of the topic, (2) The theoretical framework, (3) Empirical data, time frame and research methods, (4) Findings. Additionally, we would like to encourage the contributors to elaborate on 1) justification of the selected case/s, 2) provide details about the forms and degree of involvement of different actors and 3) the sort of data collection methods and its motivation.


Articles, written in English, should be submitted to the editors according to the following schedule:

Publication Schedule:

●       Submission of long abstracts: 30 September 2020

●      Submission of full articles: 30 November 2020

●      External peer-reviewed feedback: 15 January 2021

●      Submission of revised papers: 15 February 2021

●      Publication of the special issue: March 2021

Articles should be no longer than 10,000 words, including notes and references. A maximum of 10 articles will be published. Please refer to the editorial guidelines available at:

Please address any queries to the Editors – Proposals and papers have to be sent to the guest editors:

Questo sito utilizza un cookie tecnico per consentire la corretta navigazione. Se vuoi saperne di più consulta l'informativa estesa.

e-ISSN: 2035-6609