Gender and the Housing “Questions” in Taiwan

Yi-Ling Chen


This paper argues that the housing system is not only capitalist but also patriarchal by analyzing how the interrelations of the state, housing market, and the family reproduce gender divisions. In contrast to the housing condition of the working class in pre-welfare state Europe, as originally described by Friedrich Engels, Taiwan’s housing system was constructed by an authoritarian developmental state that repressed labor movements and emphasized economic development over social welfare. However, since the late 1980s, pro-market housing policies have greatly enhanced the commodification of housing, resulting in a unique combination of high homeownership rates, high vacancy rates, and high housing prices. This paper examines the formation of housing questions in Taiwan and its impact on women. In doing so it reveals how a social housing movement emerged in the context of a recent housing boom – on that that has occurred despite a global economic downturn – and which could provide an opportunity for feminist intervention within the housing system to transform gender relations.


housing questions; Taiwan; women; homeownership; social housing

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ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies - ISSN: 1492-9732