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Megjelent Virág Tünde tanulmánya a City folyóiratban



Maintaining spatial and social order:
the role of housing development in governing urban margins

City  – Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action
Published online: 03 Jun 2024


This paper  investigates processes of spatially ordered marginality of Roma in a former industrial town in Hungary. The analysis focuses on local poverty governance tactics and practices that aim to maintain social and spatial order through the regulation and selective displacement of Roma within the city. These practices of controlling Roma marginality are clear manifestations of the spatialization and racialization of poverty and I argue that spatial containment constitutes a new mode of poverty governance that aims to temper local tensions and cement local power. Moreover, these local policies reflect continuity from socialist era practices in terms of governing Roma marginality through disciplining and displacement. In the present context, EU-funded urban rehabilitation projects represent a vital local resource. While ostensibly targeting social integration, the local government in question has used these resources to promote the mobility of ‘deserving’ vulnerable groups and control ‘undeserving’ marginalized Roma through enclosure. Those who are seen as undeserving are racialized and subject to punitive containment while the ‘deserving’ enjoy material support and a sense of belonging to local society, provided they accept the conditions dictated by local government actors. In this way, the emphasis on individual responsibility masks the structural deficiencies of social housing and related social issues and perpetuates different forms of racism.

Keywords: poverty governance, urban margins, Roma, housing development, street-level bureaucrats