Housing, Theory and Society

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Print ISSN: 1403-6096
A significant number of Americans now live in housing that is marked by walls and in many instances by gates. While an increasing amount is written on these enclaves, relatively little research has been done on the developments themselves, the Home Owner Associations (HOAs) that run them, or their residents. This paper draws on the American Housing Survey and the Phoenix Area Social Survey to present demographic information on the housing and to indicate some of the attitudes of these homeowners. The data are used to question some popular conceptions concerning both gated communities and common interest neighborhoods, especially those relating to issues of fear and security, and to the functioning of the HOA. It is argued that it is important to continue the process of empirical research as these phenomena diffuse globally and are the focus of speculation, comment and policy development.
In order to assist decision-making about the balance between area-based policies and wider forms of intervention, this paper considers the potential strength of neighbourhood effects on two key welfare outcomes in a Stockholm birth cohort at a time when Swedish welfare policy ambitions were at a peak. Extensive longitudinal multilevel analyses indicate that prior place of residence accounts for only a small proportion of the variation in cohort members' subsequent income and receipt of social assistance. One plausible explanation for this is the success of Swedish comprehensive welfare policies. The only modest impact of the neighbourhood effect seems plausible in a society with relatively far-reaching equality of social and economic opportunities. The observed non-effects of neighbourhood composition in this study support the idea of a universal welfare policy that aims at combating social and economic inequality wherever people may live rather than the use of small area-targeted interventions.
Research into European minority ethnic groups has produced a large body of knowledge on the segregation and concentration patterns of these groups and their housing conditions. Most of these studies have shown that housing conditions and housing market options in many European countries differ for native-born households and minority ethnic groups. Also that minority ethnic groups generally live concentrated in a few urban areas, in most cases in those areas that do not have the best quality of housing and environment. In only a few studies is the internal heterogeneity of minority ethnic groups stressed, and only occasionally have the dynamic aspects of concentration patterns and housing conditions been researched. In introducing this special issue on diverse and dynamic aspects of housing and segregation, we focus firstly on what we have learned from previous studies of segregation in the European context and on the questions that have yet to be answered. We then discuss the information provided by studies on the housing conditions and housing careers of minority ethnic groups, again in the European context. Here we also try to identify some major open questions. In the third part, we focus on an explanation of patterns and possible dynamics in this area.
Local housing markets are typically "thin". This implies that vacant housing units are a scarce resource in the local housing market. Vacancy chain models constitute a class of models that explicitly link mobility and the production of vacancies within a housing market. This paper begins with the observation that this class of models is utilized to a quite low degree in the economic analysis of local housing markets. Economic methodological literature is used to discuss the reasons for this. One reason is that these models, quite unnecessarily, are presented as having a non-behavioural basis. As economics is about the behaviour of deliberately acting agents, this way of presenting vacancy chain models is an obstacle to communication with economists. Although some shortcomings of vacancy chain models are identified and discussed here, it is concluded that such models should be included in the toolbox of economists analysing local housing markets.
Studies of residential choice have traditionally focused on the influence of demographic and socio‐economic factors and on barriers for moving between the sectors of the housing market. These studies are crucial for determining when individuals tend to move and what they prefer and choose under different conditions and circumstances. However, studies do not address questions regarding individual relationships to dwellings or reasons and ways in which individuals choose to live. In this paper it is suggested that the use of a lifestyle approach helps to explain these issues. The lifestyle approach serves as an additional tool to traditional socio‐demographic differentiation by including aspects such as subjective patterns of orientation, preferences and cultural affiliation. Lifestyle is a frequently used term in the literature on housing. The meaning of the term is rather ambiguous, with a range of definitions. The aim of this paper is to present a theory of residential choice based on lifestyle indicators and to present the results of a study of residential choice based on this perspective. The study shows that some lifestyle factors are significant for explaining the choice of residence. The main conclusion is that disposition - personal tradition - strongly influences the choice of residence despite post‐modern theories emphasizing the decisive influence of cultural emancipation and personal realization. The article is based on a case study in Denmark.
This paper uses an approach based on language and discourse analysis to examine different perspectives on definitions of housing quality and good housing design. The need for such definitions is currently topical in the UK, where central government, in its desire to further the agendas of sustainable communities and urban renaissance, is urging local authorities to impose stricter controls on design. By examining policy documentation, the paper shows that housing regulators are promoting prescriptive and quantifiable standards, whilst the DETR is moving towards a more discerning approach derived from urban design. In conclusion, the paper suggests that there are other disciplines which might profitably be drawn on, and which would help to capture the more amorphous level at which people experience, relate to, and dwell in their environments.
Most discussions of the right to housing focus on the legal implications and on the arguments for and against. Case studies of implementation are less common. This case study of the right to housing in France distinguishes between the right to housing as a principle, as a process of institutionalisation and as an operational exercise. As a principle, the right to housing involves a distinction between its application to tenant/ landlord law and a general commitment to help people in difficulty. The former is more easily justiciable. As a process of institutionalisation, the right to housing is characterised by a distinction between the role of the "guarantor" state and current trends towards decentralisation and facilitation. Finally, as an operational exercise, the right to housing is characterised by tensions over the role of social housing and voluntary groups. The right to housing has led to a new model of the welfare state in housing, involving a combination of social work support, individualised financial support and a flexible range of accommodation. The model is, however, characterised by significant local variations in the quality and scale of support and involves numerous actors whose activities are difficult to co-ordinate.
Commonwealth government housing assistance expenditure on the CHSA and Commonwealth Rent Assistance, 1992-2002 (in 2001/2002 dollars)  
The neoliberal restructuring of government policies in developed nations since the 1970s has stimulated many observers to observe the “roll back” of the state from social assistance, including housing. Some suggest that the “roll out” of new forms of state activity are occurring. This paper argues that perceptions of “roll back” and “roll out” arise from a particular conception of the capacity of the state that focuses on apparent state action over discursive production. A modified version of governmentality theory is deployed to demonstrate that despite perceptions of a weakening state housing assistance presence in Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand, the conceptive and discursive role of the state has remained strong. The paper concludes by arguing that greater appreciation of the persistent pragmatic capacity of the state to define the objects, subjects and relationships of housing policy fruitfully illuminates the condition of the state under neoliberalism. Yes Yes
Housing allowances are part of both the housing policy and the general welfare policy. In order to understand fully how the housing allowances affect welfare and well-being, one needs to use multiple approaches. We propose to complement traditional analyses of marginal effects and short-run incentives with long-run perspectives taken from the new social investment literature and elements of self-esteem and fairness taken from the literature on universalism. A neo-liberal approach where analysts limit themselves to studies of marginal effects and short-run incentives both in the housing and in the labour market runs the risk of neglecting important aspects of the effects of housing allowances. Therefore, this may lead to retrenchment. The approach we propose is illustrated through a closer analysis of important elements of the housing allowance system in Norway as it is today, and the development of the system over time.
Safe, appropriate housing is vital for the successful settlement of refugees, since establishing a home is part of the process of redeveloping a sense of ontological security. However humanitarian entrants in Australia have a far greater likelihood of moving multiple times in the early years of settlement and are far less likely to be purchasing their homes compared to other migrants. Using data from interviews, focus groups and a photovoice exercise, positive home-building experiences of refugees are illustrated, while factors leading to negative outcomes are also identified. The more positive story came from the photovoice exercise with images of the remaking of home as a place of connection with others, of personal pride, of comfort and leisure, of family and commensality. Interview and focus group data focused on structural issues including the cost of housing, limited choice in the rental market, lack of public housing, poor quality, negative attitudes of real estate agents, lack of access to services, and complex tenancy procedures which are key factors influencing insecurity of tenure. The effects on refugees’ sense of ontological security are discsused.
Migrants’ constructions of their domestic spaces, and their struggle to feel at home in both receiving and sending societies, are an emerging focus of research in migration studies. Housing issues are also a privileged observatory on their transnational social engagement, as well as on the changing boundaries of their membership and belonging. This article addresses the everyday bases of their home-making and house-building practices, drawing on a multi-sited ethnography of Ecuadorian migration to Italy. What can be inferred from the ways in which migrants inhabit their houses “here”, while typically investing in better housing arrangements “there”, as to their alignment towards either society? What do their housing-related practises suggest about the potential to feel locally and transnationally at home, given the structural constraints they are subject to? By tracing the meanings, enactments and locations of migrants’ home, I aim to advance the debate on home and migration in two respects: the persistent materiality which underlies the home experience, and the significance of migrants’ houses, particularly in sending societies, as a window on the mixed social consequences of migration.
Church lofts in Toronto (from left to right: The Church Lofts under construction in 2009 (author's photo); finished interior spaces of The Church Lofts (promotional brochure, 2009, reprinted with permission)). 
Redeveloping Toronto's religious landscape -recent church loft conversions across the inner city. 
Mapping Consumption: The Church Lofts in the local consumptionscape (promotional website, 2009, reprinted with permission). 
Branding The Swanwick: Projecting Class and Taste in the local consumptionscape (promotional website, 2009, reprinted with permission). 
In recent years, a growing number of churches no longer used by religious groups have been converted to loft housing. Church lofts offer consumers heritage architecture and unique aesthetics, elements that distinguish these spaces in the housing market. In order to sell converted churches as viable homes, however, developers and their marketing teams deploy a variety of marketing strategies. Through an analysis of advertising media in Toronto, Ontario, in this paper, I show how former churches are repackaged and promoted with a heritage identity that fits a normative ideal of upscale loft living. In particular, I analyse three central marketing themes: the reinvention of a church to a house and home, the production of identity through place names and the representation of church lofts in the urban landscape. Woven together, these themes rewrite a building’s religious past and legitimize an emerging housing market that makes use of built religious heritage.
Analyses of the impacts of second home ownership in rural areas, around the world, regularly align with a “loss of community” thesis, linking second homes to a range of negative socio-economic consequences. This article looks again at the second home issue, developing a perspective that attributes a particular social value to temporary and seasonal rural residence. It proposes a framework for thinking about this phenomenon that brings together writings on the nature of place dwelling with ideas of social capital accumulation, and the potential interconnectors that temporary residents provide between the otherwise closed (or more limited) social networks of some rural communities and wider socio-economic and professional worlds. It argues that second homes may give communities a potential store of “bridging” social capital. Moreover, it proposes that second homes have a clear social value within rural community structures, and aims to open a research agenda and debate around the measurement and likely extent of this value.
Master planned communities are becoming the dominant form of new large-scale housing development in Australia. A characteristic of these developments is the focus on community as a major promotional feature. This resonates well with buyers in a climate in which community (and social capital) has become a catch-cry of governments and the private sector for a whole range of benefits. However, the case-study master planned community considered in this research has been the focus of considerable effort by the developer to facilitate community processes beyond the political or marketing level. The research reported in this paper looks at the outcomes of these efforts and shows that while high levels of attachment to place and sense of community are reported by residents, actual social interaction within the master planned community is not generally extensive. While these findings can be seen as being in accord with current notions of changing community form, they have significant implications for developers wishing to facilitate community development in terms of increased social interaction.
This metadata relates to an electronic version of an article published in Housing, Theory and Society, 20 January 2010. Housing, Theory and Society is available online at informaworldTM at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a918705170
This paper is a disciplinary contribution to the Housing, Theory and Society debate on the role of theory in housing studies. The discipline in question is economics, but considered widely across the range of perspectives it offers. A pragmatic case is made for investigating applied economics from across the subject's spectrum provided they meet the criteria of being useful, insightful, interesting or novel and potentially testable. It is argued that this is consistent with a multidisciplinary approach to housing research. The paper also argues that recent trends in economics have contributed positively, particularly through the increasingly mainstream behavioural economics and finance school, an area of practical relevance to housing.
In contemporary western society, the idea of home is commonly associated with the site of the house. But the meaning of home is not reducible to the physical space of the house. For a house to become a home, it must be imbued with a range of meanings, feelings and experiences by its occupants. While some researchers have uncovered universal, normative meanings of home, such as privacy, identity and family, others have demonstrated that these meanings can also vary across social groups according to gender, race, class, age, disability and sexuality. This paper contributes to this body of work through a case study that explores the meanings of home for middle-class gay men and lesbians living in urban Australia. Drawing on data from 37 in-depth interviews, the paper contends that gay/lesbian meanings of home are both congruent with, but also challenge, normative meanings of home. The respondents emphasize a range of ideal meanings, but reinterpret these through the experience of being gay or lesbian in contemporary society. In the process, normative homely values are employed to resist the idealization of the heterosexual family home, and instead generate homes that affirm sexual difference.
The interview.  
The tour.  
The houses.  
The home understood as a triadic relationship.
As a method of qualitative research, video offers a means of looking into the world of a respondent and a means of stimulating a dialogue, both with the respondent and others. Video requires, however, the application of additional ethical procedures and may also increase refusal rates, if it is publicly disseminated. Applied to the home, the use of video reveals both practice and identity. Video records practice, showing how the spaces within a home are used at a particular time. For this reason, video is well adapted to understanding the implications of living in a home with an innovative design and technology, with all the complexities that this commonly involves. Equally, video communicates the appearance of the home and of its occupants to whoever is watching. Video is, therefore, intimately connected to identity and the home as a place.
Tenant empowerment has traditionally been regarded as a means of realising democratic ideals: a quantitative increase in influence and control, which thereby enables "subjects" to acquire the fundamental properties of "citizens". By contrast governmentality, as derived from the work of Michel Foucault, offers a more critical appraisal of the concept of empowerment by highlighting how it is itself a mode of subjection and a means of regulating human conduct towards particular ends. Drawing on particular data about how housing governance has changed in Glasgow following its 2003 stock transfer, this paper adopts the insights of governmentality to illustrate how the political ambition of "community ownership" has been realized through the mobilization and shaping of active tenant involvement in the local decision making process. In addition, it also traces the tensions and conflict inherent in the reconfiguration of power relations post-transfer for "subjects" do not necessarily conform to the plans of those that seek to govern them.
This article attempts to engage with developing critical realist perspectives in housing and urban policy to propose a more rigorous framework for analysing the causes of homelessness. The article is framed mainly in the context of the extensive UK literature on this topic, but the theoretical arguments it pursues are intended to have wider applicability. It contends that the prevailing “new orthodoxy” in explanations of homelessness, which attempts to integrate both “structural” and “individual” causes, is useful at a descriptive level, but is unsatisfactory at a more profound conceptual level. Previous attempts to provide more theoretically informed accounts of homelessness - including positivist, social constructionist, feminist and postmodernist/poststructuralist - are also critiqued from a critical realist standpoint. The complex, emergent and non-linear explanatory framework employed by realists is argued to enable a coherent causal analysis to be maintained in the face of the diverse circumstances associated with homelessness. Poverty, spatial concentrations of disadvantage and domestic violence are used as illustrative examples of potential inter-related causes of homelessness to sketch out a preliminary realist account of this persistent social problem.
The idea of "Housing Studies" is parasitic on the notion that it is "theoretically informed" or, at least, undertaken using "research methodologies" that allow "valid generalizations" to be made in one form or another. But what does this mean and what are the epistemological implications of such a position? The implication of this position is that "Housing Studies" constitutes a superior form of "finding out about" and "knowing" housingphenomena. But housing researchers would say that because their entire existence is parasitic on their ability to elevate the importance of their methods and understanding above those of lay actors (i.e. ordinary people) and to carve a career out of their monopoly of this "expertise".Whatever statements postmodernists make about a "democratization of knowledge", then, they are wrong because housing researchers have successfully carved out, and defended, their position as producers of knowledge which is superior to that which exists in the heads of people that live in houses. This is why policy makers continue to turn to "housing researchers" when they seek"solutions" to "policy problems". And that is why "housing researchers" encourage them to do so. In this paper, I seek to challenge the methodological and epistemological authority that "Housing Studies" claims for itself. I argue that the whole idea of "Housing Studies", as it is understood by "housing researchers", is untenable in philosophical and epistemological terms. In doing so, I challenge the legitimacy that housing researchers claim for themselves to make the authoritative statements about "housing issues". This is not only necessary on epistemological grounds. It is also necessary because housing researchers are becoming increasingly adept at using their "knowledge" to justify government policies, such as housing market renewal, that violate the understandings that ordinary working class people have of their housing situation.
Like all social scientists, housing researchers must consider their role as knowledge producers in a changing social world. Questions about the appropriate means and ends of social research raise important considerations about policy impact, research quality and the public value of social inquiry. Answering these questions is not helped by the binary between the natural and the social sciences, which has created hierarchies of knowledge in which we have become comfortable and complacent with distinctions between "agency" and "structure", "soft" and "hard" data; "objective" and "subjective" phenomena and "material" and "discursive" realities. Underpinning these distinctions is a fundamental tension between different rationalities, such as the difference between what Aristotle called techne (technical rationality) and phronesis (value rationality). Research that clarifies the risks and problems faced by contemporary societies should embrace both a value and technical rationality. In the first part of the paper I argue that much of what constitutes institutionally funded housing research, at least in Australia, has been dominated by a technical rationality; with much less attention being given to the significance of values and ethics in clarifying the problems of our time. In the final part of the paper I consider how housing researchers might reframe problems, design methods of inquiry and communicate their findings in a way that contributes to public debate.
There has been wide acknowledgement of the relationship between inadequate housing and poor health; however, temporary housing has largely escaped attention. This paper takes a socio-spatial perspective of camping ground residence, reflecting on competing narratives of the meaning of these places. The temporary nature of this housing leaves residents vulnerable to eviction and inadequate housing standards, and particularly at-risk of further homelessness. Legislation, regulation and public discourse undermine camping ground residence as a legitimate housing option. This paper examines camping grounds as sites of politics of place, where many camping ground residents live in a politically and socially unsecured space. The conception of camping grounds as housing is a complex and contested issue, regardless of any economic and social functions that camping grounds fulfil. This research is an example of the consequences of social exclusion in housing, and findings reinforce the need to take into account socio-spatial structuring of housing within policy settings.
In this paper, we examine how occupants and their dwellings adapt to reduce home energy consumption. Our analysis is informed by recent studies which emphasize the materiality of the home, as well as the impact of technological change within the home. Such approaches are important in clarifying the relationship between home design and home practices, as well as understanding processes of change such as sustainable home adaptation. Drawing on people’s experiences of installing solar hot water systems, we found that sustainable home adaptation was not a straightforward process whereby occupant aspirations were delivered through building adaptation, but rather adaptation arose from the differing capacities and practices of occupants and their buildings, and how these were negotiated over time. In particular, we found that successful adaptations were dependent on the integration of the occupant’s “folk knowledge” of their home along with the “technical knowledge” provided by tradespeople, suppliers or the occupant themselves. In contrast to mid-century Australian housing new sustainable modes of living demand: working knowledge of the dwelling, reflection on home practices, and case-specific adjustments of dwellings that reflect the needs and capacities of occupants.
Australia’s generation Y has grown up believing in ‘the great Australian dream’, which is inseparable from home ownership. It embodies a sense of independence, possibly entitlement, and an expectation of economic and social advancement. In this paper Generation Y’s ‘dreams’ regarding their first home are examined with perceived risk being applied as a theoretical lens. It is found that Generation Y has expectations regarding the quality of their first home that significantly exceeds their earning capacity and that the significance of housing as an expression of identity acts as a driver of both the gap between earnings and expectations and perceptions of affordability. Nevertheless Generation Y retains a strong belief that they can ultimately get what they want and are willing to wait until their household income increases as a result of personal success, windfall gain such as inheritance or entering into a marriage/partnership.
The article presents theories relating to homeowners association’s capacity building initiatives in the context of gated communities, namely segregation theory and association theory. These two theories were analyzed and criticized for the clarification and crystallization on which theories could be used as appropriate theoretical bases in the conceptualization of the proposed logic evaluation model. The segregation theories considered homeowners associations as residential private governments which have the particular tendency to isolate, insulate and alienate itself because of its spatial, physical and institutional structure and arrangements. The association theories on the other hand regarded homeowners association as an enabling organization capable of transcending these spatial, physical and institutional limitations to forge partnership and alliances with other capacity partners and institutions. A discussion hurling a question to the end of Evan McKenzie’s concept of privatopia was also included as an added dimension to its theoretical debate. In the end, a logic evaluation model for homeowners associations capacity building partnership and initiatives was conceived to become the focal point and most important contribution of the paper.
Housing is a hot topic for economists, sparking numerous lively debates. Many of these address the vexed question of price: its micro-economic foundations and its macro-economic effects. Notwithstanding significant achievements, however, economics has struggled to account for home price dynamics using tried and tested tools. At the same time, other disciplines, ostensibly well placed to contribute, have tended to stand back. As the analytical task becomes more urgent, this paper considers the scope for rapprochement. Can cross-disciplinary alliances help establish whether housing markets are driven by hidden hands, animal spirits or some other financial intelligence?
This paper argues that the significance of place has for too long been overlooked within housing studies, rarely meriting more consideration than providing a descriptive backdrop. The emphasis on descriptive backdrop is due to place more often being examined and conceptualized in physical terms, rather than as a social construct. Only through understanding how place becomes bonded to a specific class-based identity can the explanatory potential of place be fully realized. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to engage with Bourdieu’s “theory of practice”, as it embraces the different forms of capital, their respective symbolic constructions and how these interplay within his twin notions of “field” and “habitus”. By using Bourdieu’s theoretical framework to analyse empirical data derived from the Scottish city of Stirling, it is possible to reveal just how class-based place identities are constructed and reproduced. Conceptualizing place in such terms can enhance our understanding of social structures, social hierarchies and how the process of social change influences and impacts upon housing. Revealing the processes by which individuals come to “know their place” addresses a long-acknowledged weakness in housing studies.
This paper uses an approach based on language and discourse analysis to examine different perspectives on definitions of housing quality and good housing design. The need for such definitions is currently topical in the UK, where central government, in its desire to further the agendas of sustainable communities and urban renaissance, is urging local authorities to impose stricter controls on design. By examining policy documentation, the paper shows that housing regulators are promoting prescriptive and quantifiable standards, whilst the DETR is moving towards a more discerning approach derived from urban design. In conclusion, the paper suggests that there are other disciplines which might profitably be drawn on, and which would help to capture the more amorphous level at which people experience, relate to, and dwell in their environments.
The insights of behavioural economics are questioned and an approach suggested that is based on empirical studies of how people actually behave in housing markets.
This study’s goal is to explore the representations of home that underlie residential satisfaction during the Covid-19 crisis, by developing new tools for housing research. We hypothesize that the concept of home helps explain the different experiences of social groups during the confinement period, and its effect on residential satisfaction. To test our hypothesis, we developed a mixed-methods approach departing from 135 original surveys. . First a quantitative index was created, measuring four groups of home dimensions; the inside of home (1), the outside connection (2), home as protection against stressors (3) and home as a place for positive adaptation (4). Secondly, we used content analysis to enlarge the explanatory power of the index. Our results show the index is a viable tool for exploring the different experiences of confinement. Our method potentially improves research on residential satisfaction leading to more resilience, and better design guidelines for professionals.
Top-cited authors
David Clapham
  • University of Glasgow
Hazel Easthope
  • UNSW Sydney
Keith Jacobs
  • University of Tasmania
Bo Bengtsson
  • Uppsala University
Chris Allen
  • Liverpool John Moores University