Housing, Neoliberalism and the Archive: Reinterpreting the Rise and Fall of Public Housing, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Housing, Neoliberalism and the Archive

Reinterpreting the Rise and Fall of Public Housing, 1st Edition

By Kathleen Flanagan


200 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-09-12
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From the mid-1940s, state housing authorities in Australia built large housing estates to enable home ownership by working-class families, but the public housing system they created is now regarded as broken. Contemporary problems with the sustainability, effectiveness and reputation of the Australian public housing system are usually attributed to the influence of neoliberalism. Housing, Neoliberalism and the Archive offers a challenge to this established ‘rise and fall’ narrative of post-war housing policy.

Kathleen Flanagan uses Foucauldian ‘archaeology’ to analyse archival evidence from the Australian state of Tasmania. Through this, she reveals that the difference between past and present knowledge about the value, role and purpose of public housing results from a significant discontinuity in the way we think and act in relation to housing policy.

Flanagan describes the complex system of ideas and events that underpinned policy change in Tasmania while telling a story about state housing policy, neoliberalism and history that has resonance for many other places and times. In the process, she shows that the story of public housing is more complicated than the taken-for-granted neoliberal narrative and that this finding has real significance for the dilemmas in public housing policy that face us in the here and now.


"Flanagan's groundbreaking book utilizes Foucauldian archeology and the case of Tasmania to present a fascinating and illuminating examination of how the complex ordering of discourses on public housing is central to understanding both its history and its uncertain and contested future. An essential contribution to the field." -John Flint, Professor of Town and Regional Planning, and Director of Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK

"In a brilliant, focused consideration of the so-called modern ‘truths’ of public housing in Tasmania, Dr Kathleen Flanagan has made a significant contribution to the broader debates about the changing roles and purposes of public housing provision. This book re-establishes the role and importance of the archive in demonstrating that apparent discursive continuities are discontinuous, the link between discourse and practices of government, and that now-smoothed-over periods produced different knowledges and understandings about people, place, and government." -David Cowan, Professor of Law and Policy, University of Bristol, UK

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: ‘The System is Broken': Defining the Problem, The Archive, My Argument Chapter 2. The Tenant: Before Public Housing, The Applicant, The ‘Problem’ Tenant, Intervention, The Tenant Reconfigured Chapter 3. The Tenancy: The Foundations of the Tenancy, Maintaining the Contract 1: Rent, Maintaining the Contract 2: Improvement, A Different Discursive Program, The Contract Changes, The Tenancy Reconfigured Chapter 4. The Estate: Building Homes, Building Places, Building Communities, Retreat and Reconfiguration, Delivering Services Chapter 5. Reconfiguration: Discontinuity, ‘Before’ and ‘After,’ Reconfiguration, Conclusion Afterword

About the Author

Kathleen Flanagan is Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Housing and Community Research Unit in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania. Her research is concerned with questioning the ‘taken-for-granted’ of contemporary housing policy, and includes detailed analysis of policy history and discourse. Prior to joining the University of Tasmania, Kathleen worked in the Tasmanian community sector, particularly with Anglicare’s highly-regarded Social Action and Research Centre. She was appointed by the Premier of Tasmania to the Cost of Living Expert Advisory Panel in 2010, which provided expert input into the development of the Tasmanian Cost of Living Strategy 2011, and is a past Chair of Volunteering Tasmania. She is currently working on a number of projects funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute directed at improving the sustainability and efficacy of the Australian housing system.

About the Series

Explorations in Housing Studies

Series Editors

Ray Forrest, City University of Hong Kong

[email protected]

Janet Smith, University of Illinois – Chicago

[email protected]

Keith Jacobs, University of Tasmania

[email protected]

Explorations in Housing Studies is a series of high quality, research monographs which aims to extend and deepen both theoretical debate and empirical research in the housing studies field. The series is looking for novel and cutting edge contributions which may offer new links across disciplines, new policy insights or open up new research agendas. With editors based in Asia, Australasia and North America, the series expects to have a strong international and comparative dimension. The core audience is anticipated to be rooted in critical approaches in the social sciences but proposals from scholars in other relevant disciplinary fields are also welcomed. The editors are particularly keen to hear from new scholars with ideas for books.

The series is being introduced at a time when housing, in its various dimensions, is particularly closely intertwined with the impact of demographic change, economic instability, the shaping of life chances and wealth distributions and with the uncertain impacts of environmental and technological change. Books in the series may engage with these and related issues from a variety of perspectives and methodologies-for example, drawing on new political economy approaches or involving intensive ethnography or mixed methods. The key test will be whether the proposal offers new energy and new excitement to the housing studies field.

To Submit a Proposal:

Please contact the series editor closest to your region. Each volume will be approximately 60,000 to 70,000 words and include around 20 or 30 images. A proposal must be written and submitted to the Series Editors for consideration. The editors will make an initial decision on review, and then submit to Routledge for their consideration and external review. Final decision is made at that point, and a contract is placed between author(s) and Routledge. It is anticipated that four volumes will be published per year in the series.

We welcome your ideas and proposals for this exciting new Series!

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Residential
ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban