Call for paper for the Special issue on:

“Housing Crisis and Social Mobilization in times of COVID19”

Guest editors:

Luisa Rossini (Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa, Urban Transition Hub)

Simone Tulumello (Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa, Urban TransitionHub)


Against the background of an international housing crisis long in the making and deepened in the aftermaths of the global crisis of 2008, the legitimacy of dominant discourses that have long enabled the commodification of housing has got to a critical point. The question “who are the cities for?” has been heard throughout the world, as housing costs were growing much faster than wages. Deregulation, financialization, and globalization have pushed housing to function more and more as a commodity (Madden, Marcuse 2016): forty years of financial deregulation, combined with the privatization of social housing stocks have made financial institutions and investors increasingly able to speculate over housing through complex financial instruments. As the role of the financial sector was increasing, so were wealth inequality, financial instability, gentrification and homelessness (Blakeley 2020). The COVID-19 global crisis has made the unsustainability of this model even more evident, exacerbating housing conditions (Furceri et al. 2020), especially for the populations living in rental housing and people with mortgage debt. This has triggered a new wave of mobilizations and resistance in many cities around the world (see, e.g., Accornero et al 2020), to question or oppose displacement and evictions due to rental or mortgage arrears, as well as housing commodification in a context of increasing social distress. Grassroot groups connected to social justice and housing rights have been implementing, experimenting and proposing different strategies in many cities, from the most radical to those more reformist: from calls for national rental strikes to “Stop Evictions” actions, from proposals to expropriate big private-equity firms to claims for the introduction of rent control laws, among others. Moreover, local organizations of mutual-aid emerged since “(t)he coronavirus pandemic has brought the caring geographies of mutual aid into sharp relief with the failings of both capitalism and the state” (Springer 2020).

Against this backdrop, this special issue aims to explore, analyse and conceptualist the link between housing crisis management and social mobilizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to question the evolution in power relations – including those among institutional and conflictual actors.

One the one hand, it is clear that the politicisation of housing during the pandemic has contributed to shifts in the political agenda, both at the discursive level and with specific policy measures (more often, moratoria of evictions): see, for some examples in Europe, the reference to social and housing assistance in art. 34 of the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union published in December 2020 and a collection of measures launched during the first lockdowns and collected by the Portuguese Network of Housing Studies (Rede H 2020). On the other, however, the kind of approach proposed by institutions like the EU and most states seems capable to neither disentangle those structural factors at the roots of commodification and financialization of housing during the last few decades, nor contrast the widening gap between landlords and tenants. A socially oriented discourse may ultimately hide governmentalities oriented above all to relaunch economic growth in the context of yet another international economic recession and evictions crisis.

By collecting contributions on the subject, we want to interrogate the achievements and limitations of the alternative proposals claimed and experimented by groups of active citizens and social movements, including the most radical ones (such us squatting movements), since the outburst of the COVID-19 crisis. All in all, beyond analytically capturing present dynamics, we are interested in understanding the extent to which the present conjuncture, and the social pressure generated by an extraordinary event like this pandemic, can open up toward more strategic claims (e.g. concerning housing as a primary asset vs housing as a commodity) (see Martinez 2019 on strategic vs tactic claim-making). In other words, is this new context capable to legitimise certain claims building on the new discourse on “housing as a human right” and, in doing so, overcome hegemonic frameworks used by institutions to define and manage bottom-up proposals connected to radical practices (cf. Rossini 2018, 2019)?

This means. above all, critically analysing successes and failures of activism and movements in the production of new proposals and discourses, and comparing them in time and space. As we are interested in offering both academic and activist perspectives, the involvement of the latter in the research process – i.e., not as mere informants – will be very welcomed in the selection of papers. By comparing cases in different city contexts, this issue intends to analyse the intersection of the political potential of social mobilization in times of COVID-19 crisis with the institutional realm of policies and spatial planning. Particular consideration will be given to developed techniques of resistance (successful or unsuccessful), using radical practices (e.g. actual or alleged occupation, stop evictions actions, etc.) or various mechanisms intended to push state action (e.g. demonstrations, referendum, local petitions, round tables), or a mix of them. This will allow to orientate the discussion on the effectiveness of these experiments by critically addressing and contesting local/global strategies and catalysing public attention in a way that empowers citizens to propose alternative models in times of crisis.

Submission procedure:

We are accepting two different formats of submission: 1) articles or 2) “short stories”, as following described.

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

- Submission of long abstracts (about 1,000 words): 30th of December 2021
Abstracts must be sufficiently detailed to allow the PACO editorial board to judge the merits of the paper, including:

(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 activists in the research process, and 3) the use of “traditional” data collection methods and its motivation.

Abstracts lacking this information will be immediately rejected.

2) Short stories of about from 1000 to a max of 1500 words telling experiences and narratives about mobilizations and the ways in which they dealt with the institutions and / or other actors.

These do not have to be written into the classic academic piece style and will go through a simpler review process.

- Submission of the abstracts briefly introducing the “story”: 30th of December

- Selection of long abstracts for articles of short stories: 15th of January 2022
- Submission of articles: 27th of April 2022
- Provision of peer review feedback: 15th of June 2022 - Submission of revised drafts: 30th of September 2022 - Publication of the issue: 15th of November 2022

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:




Accornero G., Harb M., Magalhães A.F., Santos F.G., Semi G., Stein S., Tulumello S. (2020) “Stay Home Without a Home”, Report from a webinar on the right to housing in Covid-19 lockdown times, Radical Housing Journal, Vol. 2-1: 197-201.


Blakeley G. 2020. “Financialization, real estate and COVID-19 in the UK”, Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal, Vol 56-1: 79–99.

Furceri et all. 2020. “How Pandemics Leave the Poor Even Farther Behind” IMF blog - May 11, 2020. By Davide Furceri, Prakash Loungani, Jonathan D. Ostry, available at:

Madden D., Marcuse P. 2016. In Defense of Housing. Verso, London, NY.


Martinez M.A. 2019. “Bitter wins or a long-distance race? Social and political outcomes of the Spanish housing movement”, Housing studies, Vol. 34-10: 1588-1611.


Rede H (2020) A Habitação nas Políticas. Síntese das medidas adoptadas como resposta à crise da COVID-19, Available at


Rossini L., Azomomox, Debelle G. 2018. “Keep Your Piece of Cake, We’ll Squat the Bakery! Autonomy Meets Repression and Institutionalisation”, in M.A. Martínez López (ed.), The Urban Politics of Squatters’ Movements, The Contemporary City, chapter 12.


Rossini L., Bianchi I. 2019. “Negotiating (re)appropriation practices amid crisis and austerity”, International Planning Studies, Vol. 25-1: 100-121.

Springer S. 2020. “Caring geographies: The COVID-19 interregnum and a return to mutual aid,” Dialogues in Human Geography 2020, Vol. 10-2: 112–115.



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