Defining Housing Reality: Ideological Hegemony and Power in Housing Research

In 1988 Housing Studies published the article that proved to be my last contribution to symbolic interactionist research, until the final burst of activity at the end of my working career, together with Keith Jacobs and Tony Manci, but also David Clapham, and many others.

The article dealt largely with the sociology of science, but included a critical look at the ideological hegemony in housing and urban studies.

1988 “Defining housing reality: ideological hegemony and power in housing research” Housing Studies (October) Vol.3 No.4 pp.205-218

An understanding of the dynamics of the research process and an awareness of the power structure of research can contribute towards heightened awareness of researchers in developing new ways of thinking and breaking down hegemonic perspectives. The task of this discussion is to begin a process of internal dialogue among housing researchers based on moving towards a more explicated awareness of the implicit paradigms and opaque power structures which determine what become and what do not become accepted wisdoms.

When a constructivist perspective taken from the sociology of science is applied to housing studies it is argued that dominant paradigms can be discerned. These can be understood in relation to the organisation of housing research both institutionally and in disciplinary terms, while sustenance of existing paradigms, or the development of new ones, are achieved through pervasive interpersonal micro processes.

This article is my earliest attempt to apply a symbolic interactionist approach to understand the exercise of power in housing research. That it was accepted by Housing Studies was encouraging, as it was the first time I had published an article that had as a major theme the exercise of power in my own specialism of housing and urban studies. This article also encouraged me to try to formulate a problem that I could make into an empirical study of the process of applying for housing.


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Jim Kemeny, The National Swedish Institute for Building Research, Box 785, S-801 29 Gävle, Sweden.

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