In a discussion on the idea of home, during the course on emerging urbanization at SEA, it occurred to me that we use the term living arrangement in a colloquial manner. But it is such a beautiful term that can encompass a broad range of things concerning living.
I will try to give a preliminary and rough sketch of the idea. This is something that just occurred today, so I did not have the time to elaborate or develop it further. But perhaps, I will elaborate it soon.
On the one hand it can mean, the arrangements in a given settlement that humans would need to carry-out rituals of living the everyday life.
On many others, it could mean the arrangements in any setting, settled, settling or not settled, human or non-human, for anything to inhabit or live in. Like the living arrangements of a cat, dog, snake, cockroach, spider, fungi, plants, trees, aquatic species, etc.
It could also mean an arrangement of things which is living – active, alive. ‘It is an active arrangement of things.’ ‘It is such a lively arrangement of things.’
It could also speak of how do things live-out in arrangements: imagine if we could say, ‘I would love live that arrangement.’ Which is not very different from saying, I would like to live this way or that way; with such and such things and not some other things. Or imagine, when you say, ‘ I want to change my living arrangements’. You are not simply saying, you want to change a house or a neighbourhood, you want to change the set of relationships that you want to be part of, or relationships that you do not wish to be part of.
Changing arrangements is not easy, imagine rearranging your room or even your bed. Heck, try re-arranging the very many folders in your laptop, file cabinets, books in your bookshelves; or, the bowl routine of your pet. Imagine you are a middle-class person aspiring further social mobility. We are all familiar with the struggles faced by groups considered by many as that of lower caste, race, class, etc. often times in day-to-day transactions and activities. However, it is of utmost importance that some arrangements change and do not remain crystalized.
Arrangements are also not easy, it takes a lot of efforts to keep things in place. Dust settles, fungus grows, termites take over, ants make home, fruits may rot, and so on. Especially, if the arrangement is for us, humans, things always keep claiming their space in the world, constantly disturbing our arrangements. Like when a hurricane lands, earthquake moves, oceans throw-back the cities filth, rivers flood, birds get caught up in the flight engines, ships get caught up in canals, sewer lines bursts, cars brake down, laptop crashes, internet drops, cell receptions get weaker, we get upset, too excited, your cat does not like your new bag.
Returning back to the question of living arrangements for the purposes of urbans studies and housing studies, this could be a useful concept to think about the networks or meshes of things or arrangements of things that is necessary for people to conduct their living in the city. Where does one work, how does one reach the work, where does one eat, live, entertain, spend time, collect things, do nothing, gather, express, indulge, etc. What is the form of the house, the street, the neighbourhood? What ideologies are dominant? What are the forms of subversions? And very many things can be opened up through the idea of living arrangements.