Negotiating Common Areas in Low-income Flat Complexes: Tensions and Compromises between Idealistic Authorities and Residential Realities

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Amata Jantarangsee

Abstract

The common areas of low-income housing complexes are generally used for the everyday needs of residents, and regulating common areas according to legal standards and middle-class values often causes conflicts between housing authorities and residents. The present study explored the necessary compromises between authorities’ ideals for purified common space and the realities of low-income residential practices in three flat complexes in Bangkok, Thailand. Purified space means that common areas are free of personal belongings and residents’ activities. The study comprised eight in-depth interviews with housing authorities, observation of everyday use of common areas, and document analysis. The study found that the management style based on land ownership and purified space was inconsistent with the unbounded use of common areas in the context of Thai culture and practices of lower-income people, resulting in confrontations between housing authorities and some residents. Three forms of disagreement were identified: ignoring rules, forceful arguing about rules, and protesting rule enforcement. Nevertheless, housing authority employees were able to resolve some issues by developing ‘negotiated outcomes’ - overlooking rule infractions, redefining the flat complex’s rules, compromising on rule enforcement, and giving friendly warnings to disruptive residents. Consequently, negotiated outcomes should be recognized as part of the formal processes of low-income flat management.

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How to Cite
Amata Jantarangsee. (2022). Negotiating Common Areas in Low-income Flat Complexes: Tensions and Compromises between Idealistic Authorities and Residential Realities. Journal of Mekong Societies, 18(1), 52–74. Retrieved from https://so03.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/mekongjournal/article/view/260456
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