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New Localism, Old Retrenchment: the 'Big Society', housing policy and the politics of welfare reform


Jacobs, K and Manzi, T, New Localism, Old Retrenchment: the 'Big Society', housing policy and the politics of welfare reform, Housing, Theory and Society, 30, (1) pp. 29-45. ISSN 1403-6096 (2013) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2012 IBF, The Institute for Housing and Urban Research

DOI: doi:10.1080/14036096.2012.683293


This article considers the ideology underpinning the 2010 UK Government’s welfare reform agenda in order to foreground what we see as the contradictions of localism and its justification in housing policy through the "Big Society" agenda. The article has three sections. It begins by discussing some of the methodological challenges that arise in interpreting contemporary policy and the value of a historically informed approach to understand the wider "politics" underpinning the "Big Society" agenda. To support our argument, the second part of the article traces the "localist" agenda back from the 1970s to the defeat of Labour in the 2010 general election to show how both Conservative and Labour administrations deployed localism as a justification for welfare reform and in different ways created opportunities for market-based reforms. The third section of the article considers the contemporary period, in particular the reforms presented to parliament in 2011 that offer new avenues for interest groups to influence decisions that hitherto have been mainly the preserve of local government. The conclusion provides a summary of the key policy implications and theoretical issues that arise from the analysis.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:big society, localism, housing policy, welfare reform
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Government and politics not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Jacobs, K (Professor Keith Jacobs)
ID Code:77778
Year Published:2013 (online first 2012)
Web of Science® Times Cited:44
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2012-05-28
Last Modified:2018-02-05
Downloads:13 View Download Statistics

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