Material culture, housing and identities in Russian post-industrial neighbourhoods
Because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent deindustrialization, Russian post-industrial neighbourhoods have experienced dramatic changes. During Soviet times, housing was given and owned by the state and the post-Soviet period was the time of ‘neighborhood reassembling’ when this Soviet housing stock was privatized and habituated by different social groups. Вased on Raymond Williams’ (1997) distinction between residual and emergent cultures the gentrification in two post-industrial neighborhoods was shown. The post-Soviet transitions included the emerging culture of the global middle classes replacing or co-existing with the authentic residual culture of the Soviet industrial working class. The analysis of the Soviet housing stock (i.e. structure level) and the meanings of its habituation (i.e. agent level) discovers class differences: workers habituated it as part of their everyday life, while the creative group views it as part of their Soviet heritage. The Soviet housing stock, as a cultural ‘residue’, constituted the dynamics of class relations while the identities within groups are blurred. This article highlights the theoretical debate that identities and housing are not about structures or agents but are intertwined. Housing as a symbol of a class is produced by policy makers, while housing habituated by residents is re-signified.