Narratives of a Fractured Trust in the Swedish Model: Tenants’ Emotions of Renovation


  • Dominika V. Polanska Uppsala University, Institute for Housing and Urban Studies
  • Åse Richard



Emotions, renovation, displacement, tenants, violations, housing, Sweden


Research shows there is a current wave of housing renovation in Swedish cities, where private as well as public rental housing companies use “renoviction,” or displacement through renovation, as a profit-driven strategy. This article focuses on emotions and renoviction, in particular the emotions of tenants currently facing forced renovations, in Sweden. We discuss how power is reproduced and questioned, and illustrate methods used by housing companies to carry out extensive renovation. The following questions have guided our analysis: What kinds of emotions are evoked among tenants experiencing an extensive, top-down and costly renovation? What particular injustices and violations are identified by the tenants in this situation? How can these violations be understood in relation to the current housing policy? Our research is qualitative and builds on semi-structured interviews with tenants as well as extensive ethnographic work in a neighborhood undergoing renovation, followed by steeply increased rents. We use the metaphor of “fractured trust” to conceptualize the emotional reaction of tenants, and argue that citizens´ trust in the Swedish welfare system is being broken locally, in the wake of ongoing top-down renovation processes, by use of a rationality that does not take into consideration tenants’ perspectives and needs. We conclude that anxiety, angst, anger, and loss, attached together in a common feeling of shock, were the most prevalent emotions expressed and were described by tenants as a response to unfair treatment. In the interviews, a complex set of violations performed by the housing company in a renoviction neighborhood is brought to the forefront here, and set in this context of systemic violence exerted against tenants in contemporary Sweden.


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