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“The World is my Backyard”: Romanticization, Thoreauvian Rhetoric, and Constructive Confrontation in the Tiny House Movement

From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Global Concerns and Urban Efforts

ISBN: 978-1-78441-058-2, eISBN: 978-1-78441-057-5

ISSN: 1047-0042

Publication date: 25 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

To examine the recent popularity of the tiny house movement with a critical eye toward the growing commodification of sustainability in a market that continues to shelter economic and class privilege, despite that the movement itself emerges from a desire to consume less and contribute to community more.

Methodology/approach

Written from the position of a tiny house builder and dweller, this study reads a range of recently published accounts of the tiny house movement, informed by contemporary work in environmental sociology. Investigates current rhetoric surrounding the movement with special attention to issues of mobility, consumption, and the movement’s romanticism, with particular attention to the movement’s invocations of Henry David Thoreau.

Findings

Tiny house living can cultivate correctives to possible oversights or entitlements in environmental thought, challenge representations of the movement itself, and encourage those inside the “tiny” house movement to openly discuss the difficulties and capabilities endemic to tiny living.

Social implications

Tiny houses, while still bound to forms of privilege, hold potential to be what some social science researchers have seen as best practice. Practices that link the practicality of realism with the zeal of romanticism can contribute to what has been found to be a positive correlation between conscious consumption and political activism.

Originality/value

This critique offers a gentle corrective to unmitigated praise of the current tiny house phenomenon in order to highlight the movement’s potential for addressing more pressing social justice and environmental issues.

Keywords

Citation

Anson, A. (2014), "“The World is my Backyard”: Romanticization, Thoreauvian Rhetoric, and Constructive Confrontation in the Tiny House Movement", From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Global Concerns and Urban Efforts (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 289-313. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1047-004220140000014013

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited