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Peter Somerville

This chapter evaluates housing policy in relation to principles of social justice. It is not about resistance or alternatives to neoliberal housing policy, nor is it about setting future directions for housing policy and practice. Housing policy, as with social policy and public policy more generally, is dominated by neoliberal interpretations of social justice principles. There are many interpretations, but they have in common a belief that the fairest (or perhaps least unfair) society is one in which capital is able to move freely, being invested in whatever activities produce the most profit. A just society in this framework is understood to be one in which markets are free from state interference and people receive rewards that match their contributions. Perhaps the main problem with neoliberal social justice, which is discussed in this chapter in relation to housing, is that it misrecognises the nature of capitalist exploitation and domination that is fundamentally responsible for social inequality.

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Gerard McElwee, Robert Smith and Peter Somerville