Accumulation by repossession: the political economy of evictions under austerity

Cooper, Victoria and Paton, Kirsteen (2019). Accumulation by repossession: the political economy of evictions under austerity. Urban Geography (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2019.1659695

Abstract

In this article we draw from Harvey’s concept of “accumulation by dispossession” to show how this rise in evictions signifies an acute form of dispossession specific to financial capitalism and austerity and, in so doing, examine the lucrative, contemporary political economy of evictions. We explore the contemporary political economy of evictions by focusing on the relationship between recent UK welfare reforms and the growth in household debt and risk. We further illustrate how the growth of evictions under austerity increases the role of the debt recovery and enforcement industry that profits from household debt. We argue that evictions and the corresponding growth of the debt recovery and enforcement industry, can be described as aform of “accumulation by repossession”, where profit is produced through repossession and extraction of debt from low-income people and places. In doing so, we try to capture the realities of a contemporary political economy of evictions.

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