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The Modernisation of Social Housing in England


  • Peter Malpass
  • Ceri Victory


This paper outlines a conceptual approach to social housing in market economies that addresses problems with earlier frameworks. Focusing on changes in English social housing in the last 30-40 years, the paper outlines an analytical method of wider applicability. Modernisation is a contested term that has been used in a number of different ways in relation to housing. Accordingly we set out a precise definition for current purposes, based on the specification of two models: a mid 20th century public housing model and a contemporary social housing model, with modernisation defined as the process of moving from one to the other. Each model embraces three elements: the role played by social housing in the wider housing system, and aspects of both provision and consumption. It is shown that there is a consistent pattern and direction of change, which can be seen as a process of migration from the public sector towards the private market. The final part acknowledges some of the difficulties of reconciling the idea of models with an obviously dynamic housing system. In particular it is recognised that the social housing model has not reached (and may never reach) a settled state. Two future scenarios are briefly mentioned: one involving a radical transition to a more fully privatised social housing (which appears to be favoured by government), and another suggesting that there is little sign of enthusiasm for this among either provider organisations or consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Malpass & Ceri Victory, 2010. "The Modernisation of Social Housing in England," International Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 3-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intjhp:v:10:y:2010:i:1:p:3-18
    DOI: 10.1080/14616710903565647

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    Modernisation; social housing; England;


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