In Anglo-Saxon societies, homeowners expect to create synergies between the owned house seen as a space of shelter, a place of home, a store of wealth and increasingly, an investment vehicle (and an object of debt). Drawing on interviews with owner-occupiers and on historic house value and mortgage data in Great Britain, we examine the way in which homes’ meanings are negotiated through the subjective calculation of the financial costs and gains of homebuying. We explore homebuyers’ miscalculation of gains, their disregard of inflation and more generally, the inconspicuousness of debt in relation to gains within their accounts, which we term ‘debt amnesia’. We show that the phenomenon of debt amnesia is socially constructed by congruent socio-linguistic, cultural, institutional and ideological devices. Informed by the ideas of ‘tacit knowledge’ (Polanyi, 1966) and ‘metaphoric understanding’ (Lakoff and Johnsen, 1980), we reflect on how the occurrence of the unspoken and the partiality of metaphor reinforce the internalisation of homeownership.
- Housing wealth
- Mortgage debt