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International Journal of Housing Policy
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ABSTRACT – This article brings Lefebvre’s Right to the City thesis into conversation with Bauman’s notion of the flawed consumer to account for the neoliberal colonisation of public tenant organising in urban redevelopment. Drawing on a case study of public housing redevelopment from Sydney, Australia, we show that neoliberal community building and the emergence of professional community builders obviate the self-organising efforts of tenants. In this case tenants’ rights were attenuated when the housing authority invited private capital to not only rebuild the physical fabric but also remake the social relations around public tenancy within the trope of consumerism. We argue for a revival of tenant self-organising as a collective political project that might counteract the individualisation of tenants’ rights under neoliberal community building regimes. Such a political project needs to be extended beyond the boundaries of the local neighbourhood or ‘housing estate’ to expose the strategies at work in public housing redevelopment projects. Drawing on Right to the City we argue that inhabitance should confer the right to participate in place-making. We conclude that tenant self-organising is one way that tenants imagine, collectively construct and inhabit lived space; it is a process of meaning- and place-making amongst a community with a shared experience of contemporary urban transformation.