Call for papers: Real estate and social topography (1100-1800)

Session at the European Social Science and History Conference (ESSHC) Vienna, 23-26 April 2014

  • Title: Real Estate and Social Topography in pre-modern urban Europe (1100-1800)
  • Session organizers: Heidi Deneweth (VUB), Brecht Dewilde (KU Leuven), Bram Vannieuwenhuyze (KU Leuven)
  • Chair: to be confirmed
  • Discussant: to be confirmed
  • Abstracts: 30 April 2013

This session will bring together social, economic and urban historians to present current research on the interaction between real estate, the housing market and social topography in pre-modern European cities and towns. Periods of economic and demographic growth as well as periods of urban decline have a direct impact on urban development, town planning, building activities, real estate and rental markets, and social topography. Equally interesting are periods of gradual economic change affecting the attractiveness of cities to migrants on the one hand and the living standards of the population on the other hand. The resulting processes of geographic and social mobility often cause important shifts between the markets for real estate and rental housing. These shifts can result in divergent price evolutions on both markets and hence influence the investment patterns of the wealthier groups as well. New priorities for investments on the housing market might lead to the redevelopment of existing plots in order to provide housing better adapted to the changing demand.

This session aims to investigate the impact of growth and decline as well as of gradual economic change on the housing market and social topography of pre-modern towns. Papers may deal with the following themes (or any combination of them):

  • Price formation and evolution on real estate and rental markets
  • Ownership structures, investment patterns and social mobility/inequality
  • Social topography, housing typologies, segregation patterns.
  • Large- or small-scale urban developments and planning

We especially welcome papers focusing on the interactions between urban and social transformations in a comparative and/or longitudinal perspective. We hope to include papers dealing with cities and towns from different countries/regions in Europe in any period between the twelfth and late eighteenth century.

Practical details

Abstracts of up to 500 words, including title, name, affiliation and contact details should be submitted before April 30th 2013 to Heidi Deneweth ( and should indicate how the content of the paper addresses the session theme outlined above. Accepted papers will be sent, together with this session proposal, to the organizers of the European Social Science and History Conference (Vienna, 23-26 April 2014).


All information related to the conference can be found via the website