Winners’ habitat is a wide research field that may be addressed at local, national or regional levels. There is a relational point of view when referring to winners’ habitat, as the existence of this group implies the presence of other groups classified as the losers. The approach to this phenomenon is related to the debate on inequality, which until recently, impregnated north-south issues and were targeted mainly to cases localized in the third world –especially Latin America- but this has progressively been expanded to cases that occur in first world nations.
The decade of the 90s provided fruitful evidence regarding the unequal distribution of development benefits within the unstoppable expansion of neomodernization processes that promoted political and economic dissociation and the incapacity to control the rising power of globalized capital. In this case, States (subjected to their national territories) give in when facing the new global financial actors who are detached from national powers.
Those phenomena, identified and analyzed two decades ago, continue spreading and changing around the world presenting mutations that reflect their main characteristic: adaptation; this is due because they resist movements aimed at reverting the predominant position of neoliberal development models.
However, within the field of knowledge addressed by Revista INVI, it is important to tackle the winners issue by analyzing territorial expressions at local-urban scale in the context of cities, that is, the study of the expression of this global phenomenon and the transformations in human settlements triggered by it from the point of view of the activities carried out by their residents, as well as new urban forms and public policies that come into play. In other words, it is the observation of new inequality forms within cities from a residential habitat perspective.
The articles featured in this issue contribute to the development of this research field. Firstly, Sonia Roitman’s “Social distinction and residential habitat in Latin America” studies housing consumption practices of new high socioeconomic groups from Mendoza and Queretaro -as well as other Latin American cities- and how this real estate consumption practices displayed by high income groups aim at achieving a class differentiation strategy that positions them as winners, rather than seeking for residential security, which is supposed to be a primary objective. The analysis of this author reveals the conception of the city that these new winners hold, which is considered as nothing but a space that provides services. This is a utilitarian notion that that replaces the concept of modern city as a space for socialization and diversity.
Then, “Social Exclusion within the “Developmentalist” Madrid: the influence of large-scale housing sale model on social cohesion within the building process of Madrid’s Metropolitan Area”, written by Alejandro Tamayo, contributes a new perspective regarding the transformational value of the housing sector in “developmentalist” States by following Henri Lefebvre analytical perspectives. Tamayo examines the fragmental traces left by private initiatives –supported by public entities- within the urban space of Madrid.
Thirdly, Ricardo Tapia’s “Social housing in Santiago. Analysis of its locational behavior between 1980-2002” analyses the losers, a sort of B side of winners habitat, as for some to win, others –apparently the majority- suffer from the effects of public policies that do not necessarily promote social integration among different classes. This phenomenon generates diffuse and fragmented cities, thus concurring with Roitman as far as the concept of utilitarian city is concerned, which in the case of Tapia would not only be present in residents’ imaginary but also such notion would be the basis for public policies.
The three remaining contributions do not necessarily address the main topic of this issue. The article “Spanish fortresses in Chiloé: The traces of history within the insular landscape”, written by Sahady et. al. focuses on an important heritage vestige that has not been properly studied within the context of a territory that mainly protects its churches and stilt houses; in this way, this article contributes to the rescue and preservation of these heritage constructions.
González et. al. in his article “Local Units for Integral Habitat Management. The Cuban Experience”, suggests an option to integral habitat management by analyzing the case of the Cuban locality of Ciego de Ávila, which focused on decentralization and participation.
Finally, the article “Socio spatial dimensions of rural housing in Mexico City. The case of Milpa Alta” offers a critical analysis of an intervention experience in a rural zone of Mexico City in which communities, as well as local and federal public agents –supported by specialists-, come together.
These six articles constitute a diverse and complex approach to the habitat of winners by either focusing on communities and territories located in privileged zones or addressing those neighborhoods and areas left behind by development. It is hoped this issue contributes to research lines and areas that are of the interest of our readers.
Jorge Larenas Salas