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The Politics of Social Housing in Britain

Jamileh Manoochehri

This book investigates the relationship between the dominant ideologies of British public life in the second half of the twentieth century and the quality of the social housing built during this period. The author compares award-winning housing projects from the 1960s and the 1980s, projects that represent two major milestones in the development of state-provided housing in Britain. Her detailed analysis looks beyond the superficial appearance of housing policy in these two contrasting periods and provides fascinating insights into the substance of the changes that took place. The book examines the influence of universalist and selectivist approaches to social housing and asks important questions about the connection between social values and government policy.

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Preface ix

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Preface This book is based on my research over the last ten years. Its genesis was my research at the Development Planning Unit of University College London. I started this endeavour when I was a practising architect with substantial involvement in housing projects. As far as the content of the book is concerned, the initial aim of the research was to find the correlation between state ideology and standards in social housing. The result seemed to be a foregone conclusion: that the standards would show a rise during Labour administrations and the reverse during Conservative governments. The first discovery was that there was very little data to enable a clear comparison, while the second and far more significant finding was that once data were collected and compared, in themselves they did not support any obvious pattern based on political party af filiations. In order to allow for comparisons to be made, examples of housing estates from each decade in the latter part of the twentieth century were found – some from library archives and some from architectural practices. The space standards were tabulated for comparison. What emerged was the surprising impact of ideology – or, more dis- tinctly, social values not only as embodied in government policies but more significantly in the individuals who implement policies. Mindful of the limitations of the scale of the research, its findings are a heart-warming vindication of the ef forts of every individual for making our world a better one, as well as a warning of...

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