1st Edition

Housing, Neoliberalism and the Archive
Reinterpreting the Rise and Fall of Public Housing

ISBN 9781138595880
Published September 12, 2019 by Routledge
210 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

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.

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

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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.


"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