From the Land of Homeowners to the Land of the Over-Indebted: Reciprocity, Solidarity and Projects of Systemic Transformation in Times of Crisis (Del país de los propietarios al país de los sobreendeudados: reciprocidad, solidaridad y proyectos ...)
Keywordsover-indebtedness, housing, home repossessions, reciprocity, economic crisis
History of scholarship and learning. The humanities
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AbstractDuring the recent housing bubble inSpain, becoming a home owner seemed to be the wisest strategy in order to access housing, and there was considerable social consensus about mortgage indebtedness as a necessary condition in order to attain this goal. However, the obligation to repay loans (Graeber, 2011) has been unavoidably transgressed on a mass scale due to the financial and real-estate crisis. The wave of home repossessions comes together with the perception of the breaking of moral principles, such as the fair compensation for effort and sacrifice, the prioritisation of basic needs over financial obligations, the availability for a second chance for the over-indebted, or the State's responsibility in guaranteeing a livelihood for its citizens. Under these circumstances, those affected activate or reinforce strategies for the circulation of resources, based both on reciprocity and market logics. Parallel to this, the current social unrest has led to the emergence of a social movement, the Plataforma de Afectados porla Hipoteca(PAH), which is articulating collective action aiming at non-market circulation, for example, by promoting mutual support or the dissemination of technical knowledge, and lobbying for legislative changes. Drawing on these observations, we will consider whether the strategies implemented by mortgage debtors have the potential, on the one hand, to secure domestic reproduction, and, on the other hand, to transform the very structures of financial capitalism that are endangering such reproduction. It will be stated that the transforming potential of strategies coping with mortgage indebtedness is based on the questioning of the obligation to repay, a questioning that emerges in turn from the resignification of over-indebtedness as an illegitimate condition.