Constructionism in Housing Research

The highlight of my constructionist writing came right at the end of my working life in Keith Jacobs, Jim Kemeny and Tony Manci Social Constructionism in Housing Research, (Ashgate 2004): The publisher information describes it as follows:

  • By stressing the importance of subjectivity and interpretation, social constructionism offers a different conception of reality from the traditional approach to housing policy analysis. This book provides an up-to-date review of the social constructionist perspective and considers its philosophical basis. It discusses how social problems are constructed and, in turn, how this informs policy-making. It is divided into two parts. The first section is theoretical and discusses the variety of conceptual approaches utilised within the constructionist paradigm. The second part provides a number of empirically based case studies from the UK and Australia to illustrate the different methodologies that form the social constructionist corpus. The book also evaluates both the criticisms that have been made against the social constructionist perspective and the strengths and weaknesses of constructionist methods. It therefore contributes to the development of a future research agenda for social constructionist research in housing and urban policy.
  • Contents: Introduction, Keith Jacobs, Jim Kemeny and Tony Manzi; The philosophical assumptions of constructionism, Max Travers; Relativism, subjectivity and the self: a critique of social constructionism, Peter King; Extending constructionist social problems to the study of housing problems, Jim Kemeny; Constructing the meaning of social exclusion as a policy metaphor, Greg Marston; Housing pathways – a social constructionist research framework, David Clapham; Necessary welfare measure or policy failure: media reports of public housing in Sydney in the 1990s, Kathleen J. Mee; Organizational research: conflict and power within UK and Australian social housing organizations, Michael Darcy and Tony Manzi; Social constructionism and international comparative housing research, Anna Haworth, Tony Manzi and Jim Kemeny; Index.
  • About the Editor: Dr Keith Jacobs is Senior Lecturer in the School of Sociology, Social Work and Tourism at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Professor Jim Kemeny is Professor of Housing and Urban Sociology at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research in the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Tony Manzi is Senior Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment and Architecture at the University of Westminster, UK.
  • Reviews: ‘There has been significant growth in the volume of theoretically explicit housing research during the last decade. The editors’ ground-breaking work is largely responsible for the growing popularity of the social constructionist perspective among housing researchers. By situating housing research within the context of this social constructionist debate, the book offers new and critical insights into what we know about “housing reality”.’ Chris Allen, Principal Research Fellow, Sheffield Hallam University, UK ‘This is a stimulating edited collection which will be of great interest to academics keen to explore housing concerns from theoretically engaged perspectives. The collection presents a significant challenge to the postivist paradigm in housing research. This text has the capacity to provoke many housing researchers into re-examining their assumptions and paradigms and could help to generate a fresh wave of interest in social theory within housing studies.’ Annette Hastings, University of Glasgow, UK ‘…housing academics and students will find this book of great use in understanding more about social constructionism and its applicability to housing research…’ European Journal of Housing Policy 

    ‘…the book ably meets the objectives set for it. It is well-referenced and indexed. It contains much insight. But perhaps it greatest benefit is in highlighting the challenge and the promise of constructionist research agendas.’ Housing Studies

There is also an Overview of Chapters: in the form of a pdf file that can be downloaded.

In the post that follows I will limit my discussion to Chapter 4, which I sole-authored.

 

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