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‘Problem families’ in public housing: discourse, commentary and (dis)order


Flanagan, K, Problem families' in public housing: discourse, commentary and (dis)order, Housing Studies, 33, (5) pp. 684-707. ISSN 0267-3037 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/02673037.2017.1380784


This article contributes to a chain of literature extending back to the late nineteenth century on the ‘problem family’, particularly when encountered by housing providers as the ‘problem’ tenant. Using archival evidence of the techniques employed by one social housing provider in the mid-1970s to identify a definitive solution to the challenges posed by ‘problem’ households, I trace the patterns and practices in ‘problem family’ discourse more broadly, and their intersection with those of other discursive fields, particularly eugenics and social work. I show how attempts to define, identify and design models of rehabilitation for ‘problem families’ can be understood as forms of a discursive strategy which Foucault identified as ‘commentary’, and argue that such commentary remains intrinsic to welfare state efforts to tackle entrenched disadvantage.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Social housing, welfare state, problem families, discourse, eugenics
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Flanagan, K (Dr Kathleen Flanagan)
ID Code:122411
Year Published:2018 (online first 2017)
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2017-11-13
Last Modified:2022-08-29

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