Housing policy: Comparing international comparisons

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Land and Housing Policies In Europe and The USA. Graham Hallett (ed). London: Routledge, 1988. pp216. £27.50.Housing and Social Change in Europe and The USA. Michael Ball, Michael Harloe and Maartje Martens. London: Routledge, 1988. pp222. £30.00.Polarisation and Social Housing: The British and French Experience. Peter Willmott and Alan Murie. London: Policy Studies Institute, 1988. pp101. £5.95.

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This paper reviews some recent critiques of the concept of ‘structures of housing provision’ (SHP) and attempts to clarify the nature and status of this concept. It argues that SHP is not a ‘theory of housing’, nor does it imply a production‐centred approach to housing analysis. Rather, SHP is a metatheoretical concept or analytical framework which, together with other theories, may be of use in the examination of particular aspects of housing development.
This article argues the case for a reconsideration of the aims and methods of comparative housing research and advocates more attention to scientific inquiry rather than accepting descriptive information as a satisfactory end product. More genuine comparative analysis is required. The examination of similarities and differences in housing systems and of the relationships between policy objectives and instruments should be done by reasoned hypothesis testing rather than the application of terminology posing as explanation. This work will involve, it is argued, more attention to the examination of data. There is a need to consider the nature and consistency of existing data and to create new data. The requirements of more basic information on housing gathered from a range of countries, improved data and taxonomies, plus hypothesis generation and testing points to the need for researchers typified as explorers, empiricists, theorists, and scientists.
Is research that uses the concept of the social relations of housing provision implicitly centred on men and neglectful of women? In this paper, I look at why this might be the case because of the principles by which the social relations of provision are defined. I look at androcentric bias, referring to principles drawn from feminist epistemologies, and make particular use of some recent work in rural geography and sociology. I then look for evidence of androcentrism in my own work on the social relations of housing provision in rural Scotland. I find my work to have had no deliberate conscious focus on male experiences nor neglect of gendered relations and consider some epistemological and methodological implications of this judgement.
The article discusses four ideal typical models for explaining why home‐ownership increases. According to the “new social realism” (Keat and Urry, Sayer, Outwaite, etc.) explaining why something happened involves describing the causal mechanism bringing it about. The alternative explanatory ideal types serve here as a means of working out the mechanism of tenure change. (1) The consumer choice model explains the development by the consumers’ preference and opportunities for owner‐occupation. (2) The producer choice model explains tenure change by referring to the changing profit considerations of the suppliers of housing. (3) According to the housing policy explanation home‐ownership increased, because the public policy makers chose a tenure strategy biased towards home‐ownership which had a crucial effect on the choices of suppliers and consumers. (4) The system model sees tenure change as functional for the modern capitalist society. These models are used as a way of grasping the empirical situation probably more complex than any of them.
In this essay, I try to roll some stones away which block the resurrection of policy as a proper focus for comparative housing research. To this end, I propose a classification of policy content based on processes common to all systems of housing provision. I also outline an analytical framework linking important contextual factors to that content, and allowing for the elaboration of theories concerning those linkages. The framework furthermore links policy to consequences in housing as well as in other parts of society. Finally, I discuss how policy‐focussed housing studies should address issues in evaluative research on housing.
Private Rented Housing in America and Europe The Aims and Effects of Housing Allowances in Western Europe Housing Markets and Policies Under Fiscal Auster-ity
  • M Harloe
Harloe, M. (1985). Private Rented Housing in America and Europe. London: Croom Helm Oxley, M. J. (1987). The Aims and Effects of Housing Allowances in Western Europe. In van Vliet, W. (ed) Housing Markets and Policies Under Fiscal Auster-ity. Westport: Greenwood Press. Michael Oxley: Leicester Polytechnic.