Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology


Canada, Housing tenure, Windsor, Homebuyers, Canadian dream


N. Deckard


R. Datta



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


From 2019 to 2022 housing prices in Canada surged. This paper investigates the social consequences of rising prices by considering the exceptional example of Windsor, Ontario. Unlike in most Canadian cities, the “Canadian dream” social narrative of timely and reliable homeownership on the back of local labour wages had survived in Windsor until recently. The latest run-up marked a turning point. Qualitative interviews conducted in early 2022 with both successful and unsuccessful homebuyers in Windsor reveal the centrality of homeownership to the life course and social fabric. Participants articulated long-standing economic and sociological concerns that home value spikes drive wealth inequality and cleave society based on housing tenure. But they also point to an underresearched ideological dimension of this social process. The data provide evidence of the harm that arises when a previously efficient ideology (the “Canadian Dream”) is suddenly eclipsed by new economic realities. I find that rising prices present impediments to the autonomy and social development of participants. I also find that this harm is mediated by feelings of relative deprivation. Harm arises from an environment of asset speculation that creates financial barriers to inclusion in the normative lifestyle of timely and reliable homeownership. Individuals excluded from this lifestyle experience a relative deprivation of cultural safety to their homeowning peers, which constitutes social harm. This study offers a rare glimpse into a phenomenon that had already become a foregone conclusion in many localities, and speaks to the real consequences of credit-driven economies that rely on home value appreciation to sustain growth.