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The meaning of housing

The meaning of housing: A pathways approach

David Clapham
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  • Book Info
    The meaning of housing
    Book Description:

    This book offers a fresh new approach to the study of housing. It explores the meaning that housing has for individuals and households by examining 'housing pathways'. Housing pathways refer to the varying household forms that individuals experience and the housing routes that they take over time. The book argues that housing has increasingly become a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The end is personal fulfilment and the main task of housing research is to elucidate the links. In this pursuit, the concepts of identity and lifestyle are key. Specifically, the book examines the structure and functioning of households and links this to changing discourses of the family; explores the important interconnections between housing and employment; considers the relationship between people and the physical aspects of a house and its location; looks at housing in terms of lifestyle choice from youth to old age and discusses the implications of the pathways approach for housing policy and future research in the field. The meaning of housing is recommended to anyone researching and studying housing and particularly to those wishing to engage with the new research agenda set out here.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-133-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Preface and acknowledgements
    (pp. iv-vi)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The main aim of this book is to establish and elaborate a framework for analysing the housing field based on the concept of a housing pathway. This framework casts a different light on housing and opens up a new and potentially important research agenda. The book explores the insights to be derived from the pathways framework by reviewing existing research and drawing attention to the many important gaps in our knowledge of housing. The book is aimed primarily at researchers active in the field of housing, but the review of literature in each chapter may be of interest to students...

  3. ONE Housing pathways
    (pp. 7-36)

    Many frameworks can be used to describe and understand the set of relationships involved in the production,consumption and distribution of housing. This chapter puts forward one way of looking at what will be termed the ‘housing field’. This is not to deny the validity or usefulness of other frameworks or to put forward a housing theory that explains all there is to know about the nature and meaning of housing. Any framework offers only a partial insight into any social phenomenon and may obscure as much as it clarifies. Frameworks can be judged on the basis of their internal consistency...

  4. TWO Households and families
    (pp. 37-60)

    One of the key features of the pathways approach is that it puts the household at the centre of the analysis of housing. Insight into the attitudes and meanings held by households about their housing circumstances and their influence on their behaviour is crucial to an understanding of the housing field and is an important element of the search for identity. However, some problems with adoption of the household as the basic building block have already been alluded to in Chapter One. There are difficulties in defining a household precisely, especially as households continuously form, split and re-form. Nevertheless, people...

  5. THREE Work
    (pp. 61-86)

    The chapter assesses the links between employment and housing at the levels both of policy and of individual households, following the pathways framework. At the level of policy the chapter traces the influence of the discourse of a flexible labour market on housing policy. The main theme is the dominance of the discourse in setting the agenda of housing policy. At the level of individual households, the chapter reviews existing research and calls for more studies examining the relationship between employment and housing decisions.

    Employment is one of the key factors underlying family and household structures. It has an important...

  6. FOUR Paying for housing
    (pp. 87-116)

    This chapter assesses the way that households pay for their housing. In line with the pathways framework, the emphasis is both on the discourses and related institutions that structure opportunities and on the behaviour of households. The interaction between households and the institutional structure is examined in particular through the experience of households that encounter problems in meeting housing payments.

    Institutional structures have been socially constructed in order to enable households to pay for housing. Payments can be a large proportion of a household’s expenditure as housing can be a costly and relatively large item of consumption. These institutional structures...

  7. FIVE Houses and homes
    (pp. 117-154)

    This chapter focuses on a key theme of the book which is the importance, for housing research and policy,of the meanings attached to houses. It is argued that meanings exist at many levels. Individual households hold meanings towards their houses, but these are influenced by wider meaning structures associated with discourses of family, home, and tenure. Also, it is argued that meanings towards a house will be associated with other aspects of living and lifestyle.

    House and home are two key concepts in the analysis of housing pathways. It was argued in Chapter One that many analytical approaches tend to...

  8. SIX Neighbourhoods and communities
    (pp. 155-184)

    This chapter argues that concern with the meaning of a house and home does not stop at the front door. The house derives meaning from its setting as well as its own characteristics. Feelings about the house will be influenced by the perceived physical and social environment outside the front door. Also, the social relationships of family, which are primarily associated with home, are also played out in other settings. Family relationships may span a number of homes and considerable distances, and the location of a house will influence the frequency and ease of contact. At the same time, social...

  9. SEVEN Early pathways
    (pp. 185-212)

    Previous chapters have sought to elucidate the pathways approach through a disaggregated analysis of the different elements that constitute pathways and the meaning these particular factors have for households. Chapters Seven and Eight further explore the pathways approach by focusing on particular parts or stages in a household’s pathway in a more holistic way. This chapter considers the early stages of a pathway by focusing on young people leaving home and their early experiences as a household. Chapter Eight covers the pathways of households in later life. Of course, these are only illustrations of the full extent of pathways and...

  10. EIGHT Housing pathways in later life
    (pp. 213-238)

    This chapter further examines the pathways approach by concentrating on the later stages of a housing pathway. The chapter adds to analysis of pathways by focusing on the policy discourses that structure the opportunities open to older people in meeting their housing, support and care needs. The central argument of the chapter is that the policy discourse of community care, which has been dominant since at least the 1960s, is ill-suited to the needs, demands and aspirations of many older people today. The discourse has been negative in tone in that it has been overly-concerned with the cost and location...

  11. NINE Researching housing pathways
    (pp. 239-254)

    A major theme of this book has been the espousal of the pathways approach to housing, which is dynamic and which examines the interaction between households and the structures that influence the opportunities and constraints they face. The pathways approach is particularly appropriate in postmodern society where housing is predominantly a means of personal fulfilment and the meaning households attach to their housing, and its relationship to identity and lifestyle in housing decisions, are vital issues. This approach has implications for the kind of housing research needed, as traditional forms of positivist research in housing are ill-adapted to the context...