The house of debt: credit constraints and house ownership in contemporary Portugal

Principal researcher: Ana Luísa Micaelo

Research group: Governance, Policies and Livelihoods


Kinship | Territoriality | Ownership

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)



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Framing the Portuguese reality within the wider comparative context of Southern European countries afflicted by "austerity measures", this project proposes to study how credit-strapped families organize themselves when at the verge of losing their dwelling. At the very core of everyday experience of relatedness and social reproduction, houses are central to the understanding of people's personal histories, livelihoods and familial entanglements, and, at the same time, are related to large scale political and economic processes. As the recent "crisis" has opened up a new area of uncertainty, the sense of security characteristic of house ownership disappears and new social, moral and political consequences of having a credit that becomes a debt arise. Arguing that ethnographic analysis is the most pertinent approach to understanding these processes, this project tackles how the social value of house ownership is being disputed and reconfigured in the new world of debt.


Full members

Catarina Frois

Governance, Policies and Livelihoods

Full members

Elizabeth Challinor

Circulation and Place-Making