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Abstract: Narratives & pathways are important for collective understanding of a topic as well as opening paths for alternative policies outside the growth paradigm. A methodology for identifying existing narratives and developing alternative pathways is applied to the case of housing. We identify two mainstream economic narratives on the housing sector: 1. Monetarist support of “Austerity”: repay debts and cut subsidies in the housing sector in order to rebuild the capacity for economic growth. 2. Keynesian support of “Stimulus”: public Investments in housing in order to restart strong activity in the building sector.
However, a system mapping modelling exercise shows that vicious circles arise within these mainstream narratives. As a consequence we develop a different perspective: a degrowth pathway in a European context, in which growth of the housing sector is not an objective. The pathway involves measures such as the reuse & recycling of construction materials, strong regulation of changes in land use, “refurbishment” of the existing building stock, social rents, the development of frugal and convivial house-sharing.
The degrowth pathway involves equilibrium between individual and collective action and a circular chain of effects through different dimensions including lessened housing inequalities, sufficiency lifestyles in housing, the reduced demand for housing, the reduction of urbanisation, the prevention of housing speculation, the reduction of private and public debt. This virtuous circle of degrowth in housing leads to a reduction of ecological impacts, a reorganisation of work, fair access to housing and reduction of debts. The neoliberal narrative and the Keynesian narrative are put on the same system map enabling to compare them to the degrowth housing pathway.