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Public housing and the politics of stigma


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Jacobs, K and Flanagan, K 2013 , 'Public housing and the politics of stigma' , Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 48, no. 3 , pp. 319-337 .

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This paper considers the problem of stigmatisation towards tenants residing in public housing. It draws on the findings of a research panel investigation set up to explore the opportunities available for activists and campaigners to address stigma and engender a more positive understanding of public housing and its contribution to ameliorating economic disadvantages.
The deliberations of the panel highlighted that, even within a forum sympathetic to the goal of addressing stigma, many conceptual, strategic and practical differences arise and need to be worked through. The paper reviews these challenges through a discussion of recent academic literature and a commentary on the contributions made by participants in the panel discussions. It concludes with the argument that the problem of stigma needs to be contextualised in a wider political setting that takes account of the contested aspects of the policy process and the role that powerful interest groupings have in agenda‐setting, alongside material factors such as poverty. The stigmatisation of public housing tenants is best understood as a symptom of systemic forms of inequality and asymmetrical power relationships. These difficulties also apply to campaigns to tackle the problem. Supporting forums that allow these power relationships to be interrogated is the first step towards change.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Jacobs, K and Flanagan, K
Keywords: public housing, stigma, policy process, welfare, tenant participation
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Journal of Social Issues
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Copyright 2013 Australian Social Policy Association

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