Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Housing Pathways of the “Missing People” of Public Housing and Resettlement Programs: Methodological Reflections

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Abstract:  This article deals with methodological challenges and presents solutions for the study of people who depart from state-subsidized housing in Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa. Having sold or rented out their units, these people have left and now live at dispersed locations. Assuming that many “missing people” leave state housing because of project-related shortcomings, studying the reasons for their departure is crucial to understanding standardized housing programs. “Missing people” urge scholars to emphasize the afterlives of housing policy interventions as a necessary analytical dimension. However, such research is confronted with three major methodological challenges: How is it possible to approach and study people who have disappeared from the area of a housing intervention? How can one link exploratory, in-depth qualitative accounts, rooted in subjective perceptions of the everyday, to potential structural deficiencies of standardized housing interventions? What kind of methodologies may help take into account the temporalities of displacement and resettlement? In order to overcome these challenges, the article presents innovative forms of purposive sampling and discusses analytical strategies, which—based on Clapham’s framework of “housing pathways”—bridge relational and structural perspectives to housing programs.

Keywords:  affordable housing; comparative research; displacement; housing pathway; housing programs; informality; resettlement; residential trajectories; slum upgrading; snowball sampling



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© Raffael Beier. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.