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A circuit of governance housing framework : modes and social relations in neo-liberal political practices


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Francis-Brophy, Eloise (2010) A circuit of governance housing framework : modes and social relations in neo-liberal political practices. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Australian State Housing Authorities, influenced by neo-liberal political practices, have
implemented housing policies favouring multi-actor 'governance' models. These aim at
altering both the size of the public and social housing sectors and the role of the state in
delivery. This impetus to involve non-state actors in the management and provision of
social housing has been reinforced by discourses that espouse significant benefits in
alternative financing and provider models. The thesis analyses this societal shift by
considering socio-cultural understandings, individual housing actors' attitudes to self-governance
and non-commercial 'stakeholder' organisational views on market
coordination. Empirically grounded, this thesis critically interprets the qualitative data
gathered from focus groups and semi-structured interviewees with 70 research
participants and newspaper and policy document analysis on the Government of
Tasmania's Affordable Housing Strategy over the period 2003 - 2007. Utilising a critical
realist ontology to understand the generative mechanisms of neo-liberal modes of
governance, this research argues that heterogeneous actor discourses exist because of
differing levels and combinations of support for the social democratic goals or market
efficiency elements of the Affordable Housing Strategy. While this diversity prevents a
coherent and singular application of neo-liberal political practices, it does not constrain the
dominance and embeddedness of its rationale.
This thesis makes six contributions to sociological understandings of the operations of
nuanced neo-liberal political practices and their uneven impacts in public and social
housing. First, the thesis argues that the basic mechanisms in the Affordable Housing
Strategy for reconfiguring the relationships and responsibilities between state and nonstate
actors emphasised new modes of governance and new social relations, or degrees of
connectivity, between different levels within the state apparatus. Second, it contends that
critical realism provides a useful lens to analyse emerging or in flux policy mechanisms. In
contrast to rational positivist approaches and post-structuralist interpretations, a critical
realist ontology is used to explain the fragmentation and complexity in housing policy and
the experiences and responses of key stakeholders amid an environment of change.
Third, to understand how the Affordable Housing Strategy functions, a dynamic 'circuit of
governance' model, which includes public housing tenants, the media and independent
communication specialists, non-government organisations (NGOs) and the state, is
developed and applied throughout the thesis. The research also found that three modes of
governance dominated the housing circuitry, namely interactions, transactions and
compliances. The thesis critiques the emergence of a cultural governance frame for public
housing news stories; contradictions in levels of self-governance to state intervention in
tenant discourses; NGO compliance based on funding and service delivery uncertainties;
attempts, some NGOs articulated, to find a middle-ground or social entrepreneurial
identity; and the influence of market-oriented transactional discourses within well-resourced
NGOs and quangos. Fifth, the thesis proposes that the local terrain of circuit of
governance actors' responded to the Affordable Housing Strategy through dialectical
processes of negotiation, rejection and opportunity-making. Finally, the thesis centres on
empirical examples of neo-liberal political practices in housing and urban sociology to
open up conversations on paradigmatic change and replacement possibilities to neo- liberal political practices. The relevance of this thesis rests on the claim that empirical
findings in housing actors' relations strengthen the rich theoretical understandings of neo-liberalism
and serve to ground theory in ways that expand it.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Affordable Housing Strategy (Tas.) , Public housing, Land use, Urban, Housing, Housing policy
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
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Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library but NOT for copying until 10 October 2012. After that date, available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Introduction -- Ch. 2. Theoretical approach -- Ch. 3. Methodology and method -- Ch. 4. Policy context of the research -- Ch. 5. The state as a major source of power in the circuit of governance -- Ch. 6. Discourses of cultural governance: the logics within press and marketing framing -- Ch. 7. Difficulties with 'distant' relations: public housing tenants and the state -- Ch. 8. NGO discourses of acquiescence: compliant governance and neutral relations -- Ch. 9. Social entrepreneurialism in NGOs: emerging close relationships with Housing Tasmania -- Ch. 10. Pseudo-market discourses: NGO support for transactional modes of govenance and distant state relations -- Ch. 11. Conclusion

Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 00:14
Last Modified: 02 May 2016 04:28
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