The Uneven Impact on Households
Edited by Ray Forrest and Ngai-Ming Yip
Chapter 9: Rebuilding Housing Policies in Response to the Current Crisis. Is Homeownership the Solution?
David Thorns INTRODUCTION Understanding the current housing crisis requires a focus on both economic and social changes. The predominant mode of analysis has focused on the economic determinants of the collapse of the financial and housing markets, first in the USA and then flowing into global markets and causing house prices to fall. As a consequence there have been mortgagee sales and housing stress accompanied by a threat to, and decline in, rates of homeownership in a number of countries. The social consequences of the crisis, and the impact on the attitudes and values that underpin housing investment, have been less prominent in the analysis. The chapter begins from the position that housing is a set of services, a cluster of activities both material and non-material, which means that sentiments and feelings, along with calculations as to the economic value of a house, are central to an understanding of the place of housing within the economy and society more generally. Further, recent research and theory have drawn attention to understanding housing within a framework of ecosystems that are complex, contextualized and exhibit multiple equilibrium states (see Crabtree, 2009; Olsson et al., 2004). To understand the social interaction and mediation around the development of housing forms that now occur increasingly within global and local processes requires a comparative analysis of housing that is situated within a close analysis of the context in which meaning is created. To fully appreciate this we need to recognize the influence of cultural, social, economic, environmental...
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