The self-build housing in Madrid (Spain): 40 years of struggle

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In a context of increasing commoditization and financialization of housing and the city as a whole, the self-construction of "informal" housing has constituted an alternative in many countries both in the North and in the Global South, however precarious it may be, for those who have been excluded from the "formal" system. Although these forms of production tend to be considered residual in the Global North, they keep creating dissident spaces that interrupt the process of accumulation of capital and challenge the private property, which is one of the fundamental pillars of capitalism. This article analyzes the policies and actions carried out in Madrid (Spain), from 1978 to 2018, in relation to self-built settlements. This analysis shows how the policies and actions carried out have been determined by the place occupied by the affected community, both physical and social, as well as by the way that community is linked to the rest of the power structures. Information regarding historical cases has been collected from existing official documentation, as well as through interviews with the actors involved in them. An analysis of current policies has also been carried out through action-research carried out in a self-built settlement for three years. The information collected has been processed through an analytical framework based on the Giddens’ approach, with a focus on the role of two key actors: the state and the community (allocative structures and authoritative structures). It is considered that this work contributes to assess the achievements of innovative community-based practices, such as the "Plan de Remodelación de Barrios" as well as the results of such practices in terms of satisfaction of community needs and of deeper structural changes.
Social innovation, conflict, space of autonomy, bottom-up processes