Helen Carr, Brendan Edgeworth and Caroline Hunter (eds), Law and the Precarious Home: Socio Legal Perspectives on the Home in Insecure Times

Date01 January 2019
Published date01 January 2019

This collection of fifteen essays aims to develop the notion of the precarious home as a perspective worth interrogating in socio-legal scholarship. Contributions are gathered together under the conceptual umbrellas of “home”, “law” and “precarity”. The editors draw on theoretical insights developed in the context of labour relations to sketch out these concepts with a light stroke but leave the contributing authors to fill the canvas with their own perspectives and approaches to these concepts. This makes the collection rich in diversity in terms of subject matter covered, the approaches taken to the core concepts, and the insights generated.

The book is organised into five broad parts which aim to advance the discussion of the core concepts in local, national and global contexts. At times the categories are slightly strained due to the diversity of the various contributions. Nonetheless, the strength of the contributions effectively advances the discussion. Given constraints of space, this review is primarily focused on the insights generated from Parts one, two and five, which relate to contemporary debates surrounding reform of residential tenancy law across Britain and Ireland.

The contributions in Part one are gathered together to shed light on “precarisation”. Sarah Blandy approaches this as a legal construct by shifting perspective and considering the concept from its opposite. The author imagines a “completely secure home” by conjuring an image of an individual with absolute dominion over an island. While this is used to effectively make the point that “sharing and precariousness of the home are evidently closely entwined” (23), this image of legal solitude also hints at an insecure existence, devoid from the social, legal, and political networks that allow life to flourish. This touches on a recurring theme – the role which the law plays in contributing to security or, indeed, precarity. Much depends on the wider context. Blandy effectively demonstrates how deregulation in the rented sectors has facilitated the development of a “sharing economy” that has given rise to much precarity. Yet, later, Magdalena Habdas, taking a critical view of the pro-tenant slant of renting law in Poland during the transition to a market system, suggests that precarity can arise from too much security. This piece which charts the remarkably direct role played by the European Court of Human Rights in shaping the development of rent regulation in Poland, will be of...

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