Housing and social control – a legal evaluation

Prof. Dr. Lorna Fox o’Mahony (University of Essex)

Housing, Protest and State Responses to Property Problems: A Resilient Property Analysis

Prof Lorna Fox O’Mahony will deliver her keynote lecture as a part of the seminar ‘Housing and social control – a legal evaluation’ on Wednesday 1 June, 17:15 – 18:15 (Amsterdam/Berlin/Paris, UTC +01:00).



Meeting ID: 931 8129 5862
Passcode: 051292

Should you wish to join us on-site, the event will take place at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Nieuwe Universiteitsgebouw, NU4A51.

Registration is not required.


The twenty-first century has been defined by a range of acute property crises: rising inequality, affordable housing crises, land use and sustainability crises, uneven economic growth, and financial and economic recessions; all heightened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. These property problems are cut across by proprietary and territorial anxieties: the sharpening of private property rights, and new moral panics linked to migration, identity and exclusion. Widespread concerns about the scale of these property crises, and states’ responses, have sparked an array of protest movements–from small-scale political squatting to Ireland’s ‘Take Back the City’ movement; from Europe’s 15M to the global Occupy movement.

Large-scale property problems and protests generate existential pressures on governments. Yet, the dominant narratives, theories, approaches and methodologies of property theories and property law typically ‘look away from’ the role of the state, or rely on imagined (Hegelian, Aristotelian, Lockean) models when conceptualising the challenges and crises they face. Resilient Property offers a new methodological and theoretical framework for analysing state responses to squatting. Drawing on case studies from the U.S., Spain, Ireland and England, and taking theoretical and methodological insights from wicked problem theory, vulnerability theory and equilibrium theory, it focuses on how state responses to squatting are determined, not only by their likely impacts on the resilience of competing stakeholders (squatters, owners, neighbours, communities, markets and social movements) but by the state’s own resilience needs, as state actors and institutions (national and local) seek to maintain or restore systemic equilibrium.

About the speaker

Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony is Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Essex. Her research focuses on critical problems in property law, housing law and home. Lorna is author or editor of ten books and dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles in these areas, including the award-winning ‘Conceptualising Home: Theories, Laws and Policies’, and her new book (with Professor Marc Roark) Squatting and the State: Resilient Property in an Age of Crisis (CUP 2022). Her research is often cited as giving content to rights to housing and home and she has worked in partnership with inner-city community-led housing organisations including the Rialto Rights in Action project and the Participation in the Practice of Rights project to advance housing rights for marginalised tenants.

1 June, 2022

  • Location: Zoom / on-site
  • Organised by: EVICT / VU

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