Security Research

"Uncertainty in the living environment"

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Justina Kaiser MA
Funded by: City of Vienna – Wiener Wohnen
Completed: February 2018

The aim of the study was an analysis of the mutual influence of everyday experiences of inhabitants of municipal housing in Vienna, especially in the living environment, and their perception of social developments and problems. In total, we conducted twenty detailed qualitative interviews with inhabitants of municipal housing in various Viennese districts.

By asking about the sense of security in the home, we collected information about the satisfaction with living conditions, conflicts in coexistence, and assessments of whether and how problems in Viennese municipal housing are caused by politics and political parties. The report therefore first addresses the living situations and subsequently analyses the evaluations of respondents regarding socio-political issues and political responsibilities.

Many of the interviewees are satisfied with their housing situation; in more concrete terms, with their own home, in which some have been living for more than forty years. But no one is proud to live in municipal housing, some emphasize that this had previously been different. According to our interviewees, everything has changed because of the influx of the socially disadvantaged, of alcoholics, and especially because of the opening of municipal housing to "foreigners". For 18 out of 20 interviewees, "the foreigners" are the main problem, and almost three quarters of them are convinced that foreigners receive preferential treatment over Austrians.

This distorted view of migrants in general, or of tenants with a migrant background, is influenced by the discourse of privilege and the allegedly unjustified claiming of social benefits by "foreigners", which is spearheaded by the current government and the (tabloid) media. Thus the majority of respondents declared themselves FPÖ voters, many of them formerly voted for the SPÖ.

The respondents saw the political responsibility for perceived injustices and abuses with the mayor and in the "Reds". However, in the field of urban planning some laid political responsibility at the door of the "Greens", or more particularly blamed the (female) vice mayor, a member of the Green Party.