Alienated Social Reproduction: A study on the politics of neoliberal urban restructuring in Leipzig, East Germany




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This thesis untangles the influence of neoliberal urban restructuring on political polarization in Leipzig, East Germany, and demonstrates how in turn the local, politicized relations of tenants marked by solidarities, fragmentation and authoritarianism, impact urban restructuring. Uncovering the interrelation of housing privatization and financialization driven urban change since the end of state socialism with tenants’ political subjectivation, it offers an interdisciplinary contribution to urban political economy and the political, sociological, and geographical study of the formation of political subjectivities. Through retroductive research based on a qualitative and ethnographic empirical case study, it proposes a relational lens to inquire the interdependence of neoliberal urban restructuring and emergent relations of, among and between tenants. After illustrating the affectively mediated patterns of housing financialization at the base of the neoliberal restructuring of an exceptional, East German boomtown, the thesis then shows how this structural process is reproduced through the stratified effects of residential alienation. Therewith, a multi-scalar theorization of residential alienation is developed in its dialectical counterpart with appropriation. The analysis of its structural, stratified psychosocial, and meso-relational aspects reveals that neoliberal urban restructuring reproduces hierarchical class divisions among tenants. These interplay with tenants’ spatialized (dis)identification and temporalities of belonging and constitute a context favourable for the emergence of fragmentations between tenants and groups of tenants. Introducing this concept as a pivotal part of residential alienation, it is demonstrated how fragmentations (a) shape the politically polarized climate of Leipzig by limiting solidarities and nurturing authoritarian divisions, and (b) tendentially reproduce neoliberal urban restructuring.





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