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Marta Tonetta

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Topic of thesis: Squeezing Homes, Extracting Stability? Urban Middle Classes and Short-term Rentals in Time of Crisis: an Italian perspective.
Abstract: Under the innovative umbrella term of what can be labelled platform economy, short-term rentals are playing a new and controversial role in cities worldwide. They can be considered drivers and markers of urban and social change.
The research project posits its theoretical foundations on an inter-disciplinary approach. It seeks to provide new understandings of the topic by following the viewpoint entry of the suppliers, renting properties through Airbnb and similar digital architectures. In particular, in light of the stress on labor market, income compression and a financial crisis that seemingly is still ongoing, the current work elaborates on the idea that middle class households are capitalising homes and rooms in order to sustain socio-economic stability and consumption habits by extracting value from their main source of wealth. Despite its theoretical and pragmatical relevance, the topic remains as of yet under researched in the academia, but becomes particularly interesting for southern European nations. What happens, for example, in a context like Italy where the housing system is characterized by the primacy of home-ownership and a huge stock of secondary homes, but where this is also a high rate of unemployment and scarce incomes?
Drawing on qualitative research techniques and a comparative case-study design, this doctoral dissertation sets out to provide an account of the emerging patterns of- and narratives around temporary private housing commodification among middle class individuals and families in two urban settings: Milan and Naples.

Research interests: Platform economy; middle classes; urban sociology; social stratification and inequalities; housing studies; sociology of consumption; qualitative methodology.
Graduated from: University of Turin, Italy.
Degrees obtained: BA degree in Cross-Cultural Communication, 110/110 cum laude; MA degree in Sociology, 110/110 cum laude and menzione.
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