Institutionalization of ‘The Property Mind’


This essay discusses the idea of ‘the culture of property’ and whether it combines the economic and cultural explanations of gentrification. To explore the idea of a culture of property in the case of Singapore, it examines both what motivates Singaporeans to invest in real estate (e.g. nostalgic feelings, duty, guilt, moral economy, face, filial piety towards ancestors and a way to remember their origins as reasons for investing in properties in China), and the institutions in the property state of Singapore (e.g. the possibility of owning and selling public housing, collective sales legislation that encourages collective profitmaking and the pension system) that increase Singaporeans’ appetite for property and make them watchers of the property market. Lastly, the essay discusses the consciousness of evictions and of class differences and notes the random and unfair nature of the property market. It ends with a call for further research on real estate and property development, and their role in increasing urban inequality.