DFG Research Project: The Crisis of Modern Housing Estates. Critique of the Modernist City and New Forms of Sociability in the 1970s


The crisis of modern mass housing estates coincided with the shift of cultural and social values and the socioeconomic ruptures that were characteristic of the 1970s. In case of the housing estates, the general devaluation of modernist urban structures and the transformation of living preferences overlapped with the resurgence of socioeconomic problems. Often, the estates’ infrastructure remained incomplete, maintenance was poor and social problems started to aggravate. However, inhabitants of the estates were able to develop functioning communities. Despite all adverse circumstances they formed a wide array of social networks and organizations to address the social problems, the neglected built environment and the overall devaluation of their estates.

The tension between the concentration of problems and the ability of the estates’ communities to cope with them, sets the stage for this research project. The development of the housing estates during the 1970s offers an insight into processes of community building under the conditions of changing cultural and social values and new socioeconomic pressures. This research project will thus show how new forms of sociability and civil society developed under the specific circumstances of the period after the Boom.

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