[OPE-L] the state and the the housing market

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sat Sep 10 2005 - 10:17:58 EDT

(was: "The social structures of the economy by Pierre Bourdieu")
> But one has only to examine an economic
> transaction closely, as Pierre Bourdieu does here for the buying and
> selling of houses, to see that these abstract assumptions cannot
> explain what happens in reality. As Bourdieu shows, the market is
> constructed by the state, which can decide, for example, whether to
> promote private housing or collective provision.

This over-estimates and privileges the role of the state under capitalism
in the housing market.  While there is no doubt that the state has roles
that it plays in shaping this market,  the market is not "constructed" by
the state.

One has to remember that many of the roles that the state has played
(e.g. construction regulations and safety codes,  zoning regulations,
state-subsidized loans,  tax breaks for the building of low-income
housing,  and -- most obviously perhaps -- the provision of public
housing) have increased over time, especially under late capitalism,
and are the consequence of working-class struggles.  Yet, the housing
market was "constructed"  and reconstructed long before the state
played these roles.  Of course, it could be claimed legitimately that to
the extent that the state was instrumental in establishing an institutional
context in which there were contract laws and private property (and an
armed wing which could be called upon to violently enforce those laws
and evict workers and squatters, etc.) then the state could be seen as
performing essential roles in the operation of the housing (and all
other) markets.

In solidarity, Jerry

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