Liquid homeownership: the making of time, class, and residential assets in Bucharest, Romania

  • Alexandra Ciocanel

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines ethnographically the transformation of housing into assets through mortgaged homeownership in Bucharest, the capital city of the country with the highest rate of outright homeownership in the world. It proposes the concept of liquid homeownership to define the form of ownership characterised by an increase in the volume and type of monetary transactions aimed at purchasing a dwelling and in which expectations of future equity play an essential role in shaping financial decisions in the present. The literature on residential asset ownership and the inequality this generates has placed a strong emphasis on the temporal dimensions of this process, pointing to how a predictable timescale of debt has been replaced by a more speculative one, given the role of financial markets in financing mortgages and homebuyers' beliefs in future house price appreciation. My analysis advances a more nuanced approach by examining the temporal investments, conceptions, orientations and horizons at play in mortgaged homeownership. I argue that these temporal dimensions have an important role in shaping new forms of intra-class inequalities given lenders' data-driven risk classification devices and in revealing specific social reproduction strategies that domesticate finance in everyday life. My approach makes a significant contribution to the literature on the asset economy in which consumers tend to be seen predominantly as 'investors' and houses as abstract goods by pointing to the domestic interdependencies that shape wealth accumulation strategies, the material specificity of 'brick-and-mortar' investments, and how homebuyers' economic calculations slide between ensuring financial gains and long-term security.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStefaan Jansen (Supervisor) & Soumhya Venkatesan (Supervisor)


  • time
  • residential assets
  • class
  • financialisation of housing
  • liquid homeownership

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