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Privatising Public Housing Redevelopment: grassroots resistance, co-operation and devastation in three Dublin neighbourhoods


  • Michelle Norris

    (School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin)

  • Rory Hearne

    (TASC - Think-tank for Action on Social Change)


This paper examines variations in residents’ responses to proposals to redevelop three public housing neighbourhoods in Dublin using Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the outcomes their resistance achieved. In two of these neighbourhoods community representative structures were strong and although one community co-operated with the PPP plans and the other opposed them, both were broadly successful in achieving their campaign objectives. Community structures in the third case-study area were weak however and the imposition of PPP redevelopment devastated this neighbourhood which is now almost entirely vacant. This case study is employed to critique the literature on grassroots resistance to urban redevelopment and welfare state restructuring and social housing development policy in Ireland. The paper concludes that, contrary to many researchers’ assumptions, residents’ political action and resistance can significantly influence on public housing redevelopment strategies despite the dominance of neoliberal and entrepreneurial governance regimes. However, for vulnerable communities were representative structures are weak, the over-emphasis on gentrification/ social mixing and refurbishing the built environment in Irish public housing development policy can have devastating consequences. Indeed, demolition and rebuilding programmes in particular can destabilise target neighbourhoods to the extent that the residents who ultimately enjoy the benefits of public housing redevelopment are largely or entirely different from those who campaigned for its instigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle Norris & Rory Hearne, 2016. "Privatising Public Housing Redevelopment: grassroots resistance, co-operation and devastation in three Dublin neighbourhoods," Working Papers 201605, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201605

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    Social housing; redevelopment; privatization; gentrification; resistance; neighbourhood; Ireland.;

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