sociology of housing

sociology of housing

an emerging specialist subject area in sociology, which seeks sociological explanations for a range of housing phenomena, ranging from patterns of housing tenure and provision, to patterns of inhabitation and household structures, to the meaning of’house’ and ‘home’ in different cultures. It is an area of study that overlaps with work in other disciplines, including human geography, planning, housing management, environmental psychology, urban sociology, policy studies and women's studies.

The sociology of housing in Britain has, in the past, been heavily influenced by prevailing modes of analysis in other sociological fields. Rex and Moore's (1967) analysis of housing provision in 'Sparkbrook’ approached the subject from social stratification theory and developed the concept of HOUSING CLASS. In the 1980s Peter Saunders (A Nation of Home Owners, 1990) approached the sociology of housing from the perspective of CONSUMPTION. In the 1970s, however, in both France and Spain, two fundamental contributions were made in the work of Henri Lefebvre (1991) on the production of space and Manuel Castells (1977) on URBAN SOCIOLOGY, which made significant contributions to human geography and associated disciplines, especially in the United States. David Harvey (1989b) has synthesized and developed these perspectives and his work as a human geographer makes an important contribution to the debate on postmodernity (see POSTMODERNITY AND POSTMODERNISM).

At the microsociology level there has been a developing interest in the way people inhabit and transform their interiors and the meanings of their home. Some of this work is reminiscent of MASS OBSERVATION studies of the mantelpiece, but other work is concerned, as is the sociology of fashion, to explore the construction of SELF. See also HOMELESSNESS.

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