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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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Conclusions This book has explored issues related to standards in social housing and their relationship with state ideology. It has considered the quality of social housing in London in the second half of the twentieth century. Having deemed housing policies to be a function of general social policies, it has contrasted housing standards in the period from the Second World War up to Margaret Thatcher’s coming to power in 1979 with the years 1979–1997. The key question addressed by this book is the dif ference in approach in the two dif ferent time periods towards the distribution of economic resources to social services in general and housing in particular. The findings set out in the previous chapters are significant in reaf firm- ing certain notions and disproving others. The early chapters set out the historical development of policies and standards in housing. They showed a correlation between working-class political activism and the working class’s increased share of goods, however modest or precarious. The milestones of key changes in housing standards showed a relationship between the interests of capital and capital’s acceptance that changes must be made in favour of labour. The role of the state has also been reviewed. The state’s function in the capitalist system and its role in implementing capital’s need to reproduce the means of production has been seen to have prompted concessions to labour. Social policy as an instrument of the state has been found to be nuanced, indicating a subtle change of the power...

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