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Housing In and Beyond Switzerland

ASG Themengruppe Housing
Immagine: First ASG thematic group meeting on February 20th 2024 in Bern. From left to right on the picture: Luisa Gehriger (University of Zurich), Jessica Verheij (University of Bern), Josje Bouwmeester (University of Bern), Gabriela Debrunner (ETHZ), Thierry Theurillat (Neuchatel University of Applied Sciences, Johannes Herburger (University of Liechtenstein) [on the picture missing are: Ifigenia Dimitrakou, Tanja Herdt, Deniz Ay].

«Housing in and beyond Switzerland»

Background & research interest: Housing is a basic human need and at the same time has become a valuable financial asset in many urbanizing areas around the world. In cities and extended urban regions in and beyond Switzerland, the lack of affordable housing for lower- and middle-income segments, the growing number of ‘renovictions’, and ongoing gentrification of urban cores have led to what is sometimes termed a “housing crisis.” While public and political debates often revolve around calling for building more and regulating less to let the markets sort the mismatch, we are interested in advancing systematic scientific analyses of the processes that make housing in different spatial contexts increasingly unaffordable and unsustainable for growing population segments.

Who are we? We are a diverse group of researchers at different career stages from disciplines such as geography, planning, sociology, and architecture investigating aspects of inequality, exclusion, and power in housing production as well as the role of housing for social reproduction. As social scientists, we do so through a socio-political conceptual lens using a multitude of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches. These range from ethnographic observation, public policy analysis as well as GIS, statistical, and urban design analyses. We conceive housing as embedded and situated within a continuum of socio-political and socio-economic processes and practices, policies and politics, as well as legal regulations (e.g., spatial planning rules), economic activities, and the dynamics of capital striving for fixation in the built environment.

What are our objectives and aims? Switzerland is a country of increasing regional spatial disparities as well as intensive cross-border networks and flows; we are aiming for stimulating comparative discussions and a more nuanced understanding of local variegations in housing research. Our aim is to connect scholars in and beyond Switzerland interested in similar topics and approaches to housing through sessions at congresses, excursions, joint publications, and research projects. Moreover, we aim to contribute to the public discourse on housing via formulating policy recommendations and making interventions in public debates to have a broader outreach via social media, magazine articles, and online blogs. We, thereby, seek to make housing research in and beyond Switzerland more visible and accessible to a broader public, while also contributing to contemporary political and academic discourses through systematic, theory-grounded, and mixed-method scientific analyses.

Leader : Gabriela Debrunner (ETH) –

Participants of the core thematic group:
Dr. Gabriela Debrunner (Co-leader, ETH Zürich, for contact:,
Prof. Dr. Thierry Theurillat (Co-leader, Neuchâtel – University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland (HES-SO), for contact:,
Prof. Dr. Tanja Herdt (OST – University of Applied Sciences),
Dr. Ifigenia Dimitrakou (University of Zurich),
Dr. Johannes Herburger (University of Liechtenstein),
Dr. Deniz Ay (University of Bern),
Josje Bouwmeester (University of Bern),
Jessica Verheij (University of Bern),
Luisa Gehriger (University of Zurich)