Social containers as a tool of social and spatial segregation
Our paper deals with the establishment of the container settlements in Poland and the grassroots response to it: by the inhabitants and by political activists. In particular we are interested in how local authorities strategically frame housing issues to create social acceptance of diminishing standards of social housing in Poland and the involvement of the mainstream media in the process. We are focusing on strategies as well as tactical efforts to overcome structural and discursive opportunities emerging in the process of the anti- container campaign. Exclusionary discourse about the ‘container ghettos’ becomes a justification for local authorities to use social containers as tool of social and spatial segregation as well as to discipline communal tenants. In response of this process activists had to develop new diagnostic mobilizing frames and put considerable effort into frame alignment processes and forged new alliances with other actors. We analyze the campaign from the perspective of social movement studies, in particular structural theories of collective action. One side effect of such policies is unspoken racism, which we - after E. Balibar - interpret mostly in class terms aimed at the economically maladjusted. Empirically, our paper draws upon sociological intervention and 40 in-depth interviews with the inhabitants of the container settlements in Poland in 7 different cities conducted in 2008-2012; participantobservations of the settlements and of the campaign against them due to personal involvement of one of the authors.