Power, discursive space and institutional practices in the construction of housing problems
A constructionist approach to the study of social problems and housing policy provides a theoretically informed means of analysing the ways in which housing policy is formulated and implemented. Yet despite a strong commitment by housing researchers to policy-relevance, constructionist studies of how specific social problems are generated and deployed have so far made only a limited impact on housing research. The paper addresses this lacuna by first discussing important literature and the key conceptual issues in this field of study. This is followed by a discussion of two examples from recent UK housing policy (the shift in the 1980s from defining lone mothers as the victims of housing shortages to a morally questionable group subverting needs based allocation policies and the re-emergence of anti-social behaviour as a problem on housing estates). The paper's conclusion is that the 'construction of problems' provides a rich source of new material as well as offering significant opportunities to develop a more critically informed housing research agenda.
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