Making renting right : ethics of economy in the Edinburgh private rented sector
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Recent decades have seen a shift in Scotland in terms of the provision of housing and housing-related services from the public sector to the private sector. In statistical terms, the proportion of Scottish households in the private rented sector has doubled during the past ten years. This thesis unpacks anthropologically the private rented sector as a locally-found concept in Edinburgh, largely through the medium of ‘property management’, another locally-found concept. Key questions concern how the private rented sector in Edinburgh is ‘managed’ at the vernacular level, how the ethics of property management take shape in Edinburgh in the context of this ongoing shift from the public to the private sectors, and how the property relations within the sector relate to existing debates in economic anthropology. The primary ethnographic material, based upon fieldwork in 2014 and 2015, is of an Edinburgh letting agency as archetypal property managers, though other material either was produced in conjunction with Shelter Scotland or stemmed from the tracing of further connections within the field. Engaging with the broader anthropology of ethics, a core conclusion is that processes of property management rest ultimately upon practices of ethics that take place at the ‘ordinary’ level. A parallel aim is to consider how anthropologists might produce ethnography of an economic ‘sector’, such as the private rented sector. Borrowing from Actor-Network Theory, I propose occupying a range of different vantage points in a given economic sector within a socially defined locale, such as the city, by following the connections encountered in the field, and then by allowing actors to perform both the social and the economic by tracing their associations through the production of the ethnographic text.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-03-13
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 13th March 2024
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