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Homeownership in Israel: The Social Costs of Middle-Class Debt

By Hadas Weiss

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Cite As:
Weiss, Hadas. 2014. “Homeownership in Israel: The Social Costs of Middle-Class Debt”. Cultural Anthropology 29 (1), 128-49. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca29.1.08.

Abstract

What motivates people to make home purchases that seem imprudent in narrowly economic terms, and how does the salience of homeownership debt shape political struggles for social justice? To answer these questions, I draw on my fieldwork among homebuyers in Israel in the wake of the 2011 housing protests. I find that homebuyers’ reliance on credit compels them to operate as investors despite themselves by making homeownership synonymous with achieving security. Homebuyers’ competitive pursuit of security through mortgage-enabled homeownership contributes to the collective insecurity of the middle class. Credit-leveraged accumulation thereby widens the gap between market growth and public welfare, even as they are widely represented as interlinked. This analysis will illuminate the relation of credit and debt to political agency.

Keywords

housing; credit; mortgage; financialization; security; political agency