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Among Others in a World of One’s Own. Appropriation of Space in Modern Apartment Houses in the Early Post-War Period

Author(s): Håkan Berglund-Lake

Journal: Folklore : Electronic Journal of Folklore
ISSN 1406-0957

Volume: 39;
Start page: 109;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: appropriation of space | experience of dwelling | modern apartment houses | notion of home | phenomenology | private/public domains

After the Second World War an intense period of modern housingconstruction started in Sweden, which suddenly changed the circumstances of everyday life for a great number of the Swedish population. The tenants were offered apartments equipped with central heating, kitchen with fridge and electric cooker, and bathroom with bathtub. These dwellings gave rise to new experiences for everyone who moved in. By ordering their things and establishing new everyday routines and habits, people appropriated this new and unfamiliar space and made it one with their ongoing life. In this process of spatial organisation and routinisation new borderlines were drawn and new meanings were given to categories such as private-public, indoor-outdoor, home-outer world, us and them. Applying a theoretical approach from phenomenology, based on life story interviews with people who experienced these modern apartments in their capacity as the first tenants, the article elucidates how people through their daily habitual actions, in interaction with things and consociates both delimited and positioned themselves in connection with a wider world. Namely, how they established a relationship between private and public realms, home and not-home, inside and outside, “us” and “them”, and, furthermore, how they transformed an unfamiliar space into a familiar place, a place they could call their own.
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