A Place to Stay

A place to stay: Housing arrangements between newcomers and their hosts 

Swiss National Science Foundation 01.08.2022 – 31.07.2024

Finding affordable housing in large European cities is a challenge. For newcomers with no stable income, it is an ordeal. The literature shows that newcomers are often accommodated by former migrants, yet the creation and characteristics of such arrangements often remain unclear or even ambiguous. Authors refer to support practices, but also to income-generating practices of subletting or reletting, sometimes at inflated prices. Do newcomers with the ‘right’ network benefit from hospitality while the others face exploitation? Ethnographic accounts challenge such a dichotomy. Hospitality always involves ‘reciprocity, a tension between spontaneity and calculation, generosity and parasitism, friendship and enmity, improvisation and rule’ (Candea & Da Col, 2012, p. 1). This project aims to answer the following questions: what kinds of direct and indirect forms of reciprocity are involved in informal housing arrangements, and how do they shape both parties’ social networks, social mobility and feeling of home?