Behind barricaded doors
: gender, class, and power in the London squatting movement

  • Rowan Tallis Milligan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


I explore how gender and class inform power dynamics within the London squatting movement. In perpetually precarious and temporary housing, squatters exist on the border between housed and homelessness, and squats operate as a location for both domestic and collective politics, making this a rich field for analysing classed and gendered politics and negotiations in both private and public spheres. I look at several intersecting realms through which power and hierarchy are forged and distributed: the embodied and performative self; interpersonal relations and social space; and spatial relationships in material locations.

My investigation functions both as a case study for an under researched ‘subculture’ and as an exploration into homemaking and everyday social relations under conditions of precarity and vulnerability, with implications for research into the broader axes of power relations in our unstable housing market.

My qualitative research methods are semi-structured interviews and participant observation, over 18 months in the field, and my personal experiences as an ex-squatter. I use a thematic and deductive content analysis to generate and organise my data. My methodology is situated within feminist and militant ethnographic traditions, in recognition of my own participation within squatter communities and commitment to the project of creating alternative and equitable homescapes.
Date of Award14 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorAntonis Vradis (Supervisor), Nissa Finney (Supervisor) & Sharon Leahy (Supervisor)


  • Squatting
  • Critical geographies of the home
  • Conflict
  • Housing
  • Gender
  • Class
  • Hierarchy
  • Social capital
  • Power dynamics
  • Militant ethnography

Access Status

  • Full text open

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