Andrea Protschky M.Sc.
Dept. 2: History and Social Sciences
Institute of Sociology, Department Urban Sociology and Sociology of Space
work +49 6151 16-57578
- Housing and homelessness
- Temporality and spatiality of social inequalities
- Crisis research
- Interrelations of infrastructure and society
- Modern architecture and urban planning
- Urban Heritage
Improvising Infrastructure. Infrastructure practices and social in- and exclusions of unhoused persons in Berlin. (Working title)
Unhoused persons’ access to basic infrastructure (water, energy, mobility, communication) is impeded. Persons without a permanent dwelling, financial means and income are partly excluded from infrastructure, which would be used in one’s accommodation or has to be paid for. By drawing on offers of social organisations as well as elaborate strategies of infrastructure use and replacement, unhoused urbanites however manage to gain limited access to services. In this way, the infrastructure practices of unhoused persons mirror social in- and exclusions, but also shape their social situation – for instance due to the possibility to maintain personal hygiene or the accumulation of transport related debt. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the reduction of many assistance offers and sources of income aggravates this precarity, but the launch of new social and political initiatives might also offer possibilities for the infrastructure use of unhoused persons.
Previous research on social and spatial exclusion of unhoused persons as well as infrastructure scholarship have so far hardly addressed these issues. Infrastructure scholarship in Europe largely focuses on the integrative character of infrastructure or regional differences in access, but has so far claimed little interest in the exclusion of specific user groups. By contrast, infrastructure research in the Global South often emphasizes the role of people and their practices for the functioning of instable and fragmented infrastructural arrangements and for the research of inequalities. Building on this debate and based on a practice theoretical approach, the project investigates how infrastructure practices are connected to social in- and exclusions of unhoused persons and how these relations develop during personal and societal crises. The study is conducted in Berlin, which has been dubbed Germany’s “homeless capital” (Mayer 1997, Mahs 2013), since it supposedly hosts the highest number of persons without permanent shelter among German cities.