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Author: James Gregory

This chapter discusses the role of place and neighbourhood in discourses of social housing. A key theme is the assertion that concentrated social housing creates self-sustaining ‘cultures of worklessness’. This is first discussed in relation to the social scientific literature on neighbourhood effects, with the conclusion that the broader evidence base on neighbourhood effects is inconclusive. Further research on intergenerational worklessness is England is then reviewed. The evidence largely contradicts the assertion that there is persistent intergenerational worklessness. But the process of myth busting can also reinforce the politicised misrepresentation of empirical fact, giving it greater legitimacy through direct engagement. At other times problematic evidence is dismissed too quickly, on normative rather than empirical grounds. This tendency is prevalent in another social housing debate, discussed in the second half of the chapter. Discourses surrounding democratic participation in housing management are discussed, with a focus on the controversial transfer of some estates from councils to housing associations.

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Author: James Gregory

The issues raised in Chapters 1 and 2 are explored through an analysis of competing discourses of social housing and welfare dependency. The chapter starts with a theoretical discussion of the ways in which the meanings of ‘social housing’ and ‘dependency’ have been socially constructed, while articulating in greater depth the book’s key theoretical premises. A distinction is drawn between ‘social’ and social scientific facts in the context of welfare debates. Special attention is paid to the political debate around social housing and life chances in the 2000s, and in particular the role of think-tanks and the media in constructing negative narratives of worklessness. These constructions proceed by colonisation of key sociological concepts such as a culture and life chances, and by persistent misrepresentation of empirical data. They nevertheless create powerful social facts that are to be taken seriously as sociological phenomena.

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Author: James Gregory

This chapter presents the findings of two research projects conducted in the South East and South West of England. Social housing and wellbeing is discussed with reference to two notable research studies conducted in the 1980s. The concept of ontological security anchors a theoretical discussion of home and belonging, but it is argued that the concept itself has been misunderstood and misused in housing research. The survey data is based on four wellbeing items used by the Office for National Statistics. Further items on individual experiences of the home are taken from the existing housing literature. Social housing has a positive effect on anxiety, though there is an association between social renting and lower satisfaction with life in the South East. Positive experiences of neighbourhood are more important than housing tenure. The chapter closes with a renewed discussion of ontological security, property, and identity.

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Author: James Gregory

Chapter 1 introduces the key themes of wellbeing and welfare and sets them in the wider context of current welfare and housing debates. This context includes a widespread sense of housing crisis, with individuals and families in all types of housing struggling to find an affordable home that meets their needs. In the face of this crisis social housing should play an important role. But the number of households in social housing has halved over the past 40 years, and many people who would benefit from a social home are excluded by a lack of a supply. Some other households may benefit from a stable and affordable home, but still regard social housing as an inferior choice, and a mark of social stigma. The chapter closes with an examination of two forms of social distance, metaphorical and literal, that have created and sustain this sense of stigma.

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Author: James Gregory

This book explores the relationship between housing, wellbeing and the welfare state in the United Kingdom. The book of structured in three parts. In part one the central focus is on the purpose and value of social housing, with a particular focus on the ways in which negative discourses of social housing and welfare dependency have developed over the last 40 years. The concept of wellbeing is discussed and then presented in an analytical framework of potential housing-wellbeing interactions. The framework encompasses thick accounts of wellbeing and human flourishing as well as subjective wellbeing metrics, with a focus on discourses of welfare dependency and the ideological context of a property-owning democracy.

Part two presents new empirical data and analysis. Two case-studies explore the relationship between social housing, neighbourhood and wellbeing. These studies include subjective experiences of the home and the home as a source of identity. New analysis of secondary survey data is then presented. The results show that social housing has no negative effect on wellbeing. Conversely, mortgaged owners tend to have lower wellbeing than other types of households. Neighbourhood is shown to be a crucial determinant of wellbeing across all tenures. Part III applies these results to contemporary political and policy debate and advocates a hybrid approach to social housing, meeting diverse needs and offering a wider range of tenure options.

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Author: James Gregory

This chapter presents new modelling of data from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society. The chapter starts with a review of the existing evidence base on the relationship between housing tenure, wellbeing and civic engagement. The dominant assumption in this literature is that home ownership has a positive ‘tenure’ effect on individuals. The key concept of ‘tenure’ is explored is analysed in greater and contrasted to ‘housing factors’. These include cost, quality and location and vary within as well as between tenures. Controlling for these factors, it is shown that there is no negative association between social housing and the three dimensions of wellbeing. Financial stability and the quality of neighbourhood are again shown to be more important than tenure for wellbeing. Further modelling with less stringent controls also shows that mortgaged owners fare worse than social tenants across all three dimensions of wellbeing.

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Author: James Gregory

The final chapter advocates a hybrid approach to social housing. In this account there is an activist role for the state in the housing market, as well as a role as a provider of social housing. Equal emphasis is placed on the role of housing associations. A mixed economy of housing provision is one in which the ‘social’ encompasses a wide range of housing needs, including ownership options, with greater flexibility to move between tenures if financial circumstances change. The chapter concludes with brief commentary on future directions for the welfare–wellbeing debate.

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Author: James Gregory

This book explores the relationship between housing, wellbeing and the welfare state in the United Kingdom. The book of structured in three parts. In part one the central focus is on the purpose and value of social housing, with a particular focus on the ways in which negative discourses of social housing and welfare dependency have developed over the last 40 years. The concept of wellbeing is discussed and then presented in an analytical framework of potential housing-wellbeing interactions. The framework encompasses thick accounts of wellbeing and human flourishing as well as subjective wellbeing metrics, with a focus on discourses of welfare dependency and the ideological context of a property-owning democracy.

Part two presents new empirical data and analysis. Two case-studies explore the relationship between social housing, neighbourhood and wellbeing. These studies include subjective experiences of the home and the home as a source of identity. New analysis of secondary survey data is then presented. The results show that social housing has no negative effect on wellbeing. Conversely, mortgaged owners tend to have lower wellbeing than other types of households. Neighbourhood is shown to be a crucial determinant of wellbeing across all tenures. Part III applies these results to contemporary political and policy debate and advocates a hybrid approach to social housing, meeting diverse needs and offering a wider range of tenure options.

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Author: James Gregory

The first half of this chapter presents a typological framework that is used as means of reassessing recent policy trends and their potential impact on the wellbeing not just of social tenants, but also of private renters and owners. Limited comment on is offered on divergences with the devolved nations. Key issues discussed are: affordable versus social rent, the spatial impact of welfare reforms, proposed planning reforms (England), and the ongoing policy bias towards owner-occupation. The typology presents two forms of social distance, spatial and metaphorical, and considers how they interact to shape perceptions of the meaning and value of social housing. This adds to and enhances current analytical models within the sociology of welfare regimes. It also frames a normative account of the relationship between spatial proximity and the virtue of compassion. The focus is on the character (or virtue) and attitudes of higher-income households.

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Author: James Gregory

This book explores the relationship between housing, wellbeing and the welfare state in the United Kingdom. The book of structured in three parts. In part one the central focus is on the purpose and value of social housing, with a particular focus on the ways in which negative discourses of social housing and welfare dependency have developed over the last 40 years. The concept of wellbeing is discussed and then presented in an analytical framework of potential housing-wellbeing interactions. The framework encompasses thick accounts of wellbeing and human flourishing as well as subjective wellbeing metrics, with a focus on discourses of welfare dependency and the ideological context of a property-owning democracy.

Part two presents new empirical data and analysis. Two case-studies explore the relationship between social housing, neighbourhood and wellbeing. These studies include subjective experiences of the home and the home as a source of identity. New analysis of secondary survey data is then presented. The results show that social housing has no negative effect on wellbeing. Conversely, mortgaged owners tend to have lower wellbeing than other types of households. Neighbourhood is shown to be a crucial determinant of wellbeing across all tenures. Part III applies these results to contemporary political and policy debate and advocates a hybrid approach to social housing, meeting diverse needs and offering a wider range of tenure options.

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