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Brick by brick: An ethnography of self-help housing, family practices and everyday life in a consolidated popular settlement of Mexico City.

Ortega-Alcazar, Iliana (2007) Brick by brick: An ethnography of self-help housing, family practices and everyday life in a consolidated popular settlement of Mexico City. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis looks into the connections between built form, everyday life and family practices. It is an ethnographic study of the densification process and the development of multifamily plots in Santo Domingo, that seeks to add texture and complexity to the understanding of everyday life in the consolidated popular settlements of Mexico City more broadly. It is embedded in the research agenda that is concerned with the experience of urban living for the different groups that make up the contemporary city. The following research is grounded in the argument that Santo Domingo - as most consolidated popular settlements in Mexico City - is playing a fundamental role in the provision of housing for the city's low-income population. This has led to an increased densification and to the development of complex multifamily plots. The thesis first analyses how Santo Domingo's multifamily plots have come about and interrogates the nature of the relationship between houses and the families that produce them. It then looks into the question of why families cluster together in a variety of multifamily plots. By focusing on the cultural production of socio-spatial processes, it provides an alternative to understanding family practices and residential arrangements as being either the result of conscious strategies designed by rational agents which aim at maximising their limited resources, or as the mechanic effect of structural conditions. The thesis moves on to examine how, in the present situation of rising densification, families use their increasingly limited space in a tactical way in order to get closer to their ideal socio-spatial arrangement. Finally, it analyses the social consequences of the ongoing process of building that characterises popular settlements like Santo Domingo. It explores how the building of houses is - beyond the struggle to attain adequate shelter - a struggle to build and consolidate families, attain social recognition, and construct a sense of belonging.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, Urban and Regional Planning
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Sociology

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