Welfare pluralism or shadow state? The provision of social housing in the 1990s
Within a context of the restructuring of the welfare state, housing associations have become the main providers of social housing. Welfare pluralists, as well as the government, would see this as a positive change, since housing associations are perceived as voluntary, independent, and small scale, responding to a diversity of local needs. Using data obtained during interviews in four case-study areas, I argue, however, that the rhetoric is not underpinned by the reality. The very process of change has, in fact, led to increasing control by central, and to some extent local, governments, so that a more appropriate conceptualisation is that of housing associations as a 'shadow state'. The results of this are changes in the type of housing being built, in the sort of tenants being housed, and in the compromises over the alms and ethos of housing associations themselves.
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