Tue, 23 Apr 2019 7:00 PM

Home or Commodity? The Transformation of Housing and its Discontents

In cities across the world, housing systems are undergoing immense change. Homes are being transformed into liquid commodities, and as such, are increasingly unable to meet the social need for residential space. This has painful consequences for households and urban life, in the form of residential alienation, precarity and displacement. But in many places, resistance movements are growing. In this talk, sociologist David Madden will explore the causes and consequences of the commodification of housing, drawing lessons from London and New York City. There is nothing inevitable about a housing crisis, but changing it requires understanding the role of housing within urban capitalism today.

Featured presenter

David Madden is associate professor in sociology and co-director of the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics. He works on urban studies, political sociology and social theory. His research interests include housing, urban restructuring, public space and critical urban theory. He has conducted qualitative, ethnographic and archival research in New York City and London. He is co-author, with Peter Marcuse, of In Defense of Housing: The politics of crisis. His writing has appeared in leading academic journals as well as the Guardian, the Washington Post and Jacobin.

David Madden’s talk will be followed by a panel of local respondents to give the themes of his talk a Canadian context on a local, provincial and national scale.


  • David Hulchanski, University of Toronto
  • Penny Gurstein, University of British Columbia 
  • Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing 
  • Question period hosted by Jen St. Denis, Star Vancouver


David Hulchanski is a professor of housing and community development at the University of Toronto, where he holds the Chow Yei Ching Chair in Housing. He holds a PhD in urban planning, and his research and teaching focus on housing, neighbourhoods and community development. He is currently the principal investigator of the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership.   

Penny Gurstein, PhD, is professor and immediate past director of the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC. She specializes in the socio-cultural aspects of community planning with particular emphasis on those who are the most marginalized in planning processes. Her current research is investigating strategies for affordable homeownership and rental housing both internationally and in Canada. She is founding director of the Housing Research Collaborative.  

Selina Robinson was elected as the MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. She is the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. As a former city councillor, Selina fought to protect the health of children and families by introducing a local ban on cosmetic pesticides, and worked to improve access for people with disabilities as chair of the Coquitlam Universal Access-Ability Advisory Committee.

Jen St. Denis is a reporter covering city hall and housing for the Star Vancouver. Her recent work has focused on the plight of elderly and low-income renters in Metro Vancouver, who are at increased risk of renoviction from older apartment buildings following a historic jump in rents that occurred in 2016. She was previously a staff reporter for Business in Vancouver, where she wrote on policy and the economy.

Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 7–9 pm

Regular Admission: $5 general admission fee. Admission is free for students with valid student ID, but reservations are still required. Reserve tickets on Eventbrite

Twitter: Comment and ask questions by following the City Program on Twitter (@sfucity) and using the hashtag: #SFUCity

Venue: Room 1200-1500, SFU Segal Building, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver

Related topic: Community Building


This lecture is made possible by a generous sponsorship from BC Housing



Email: city@sfu.ca
Telephone: 778-782-5254