This stimulating sessions offers discussion about the meaning of home in light of social practice theory, questions about what it means to be well-housed, and notions of home in relation to formerly homeless young people. The full abstracts are below.
Presentations from these authors and a live Q&A session are available to all HSA members. Book here
1. Craig Gurney When routine bites hard. Is home a social practice?
This speculative theoretical paper reflects upon the significance of contemporary social practice theory - which develops Bourdieu’s (1977) notion of “habitus” and Giddens’ (1984) Structuration Theory (Reckwitz 2002, Roepke 2009, Shove et al 2013) - and considers how this perspective might have utility for research on the meaning of home and, in housing studies research more generally. At the heart of social practice theory is the idea that “practices are defined by the interdependent relations between materials, competencies and meanings” (Shove et al 2013, p 24). In this paper I argue that the identification and conceptualisation of this inter-relationship between materials, competencies and meanings of housing has been neglected (with the notable exception of a recent paper by Madsen 2018 on thermal comfort in the home) by researchers working in the field of housing studies and that as a perspective, this offers great potential for new insights, especially with regard to work on the meaning of home. The paper works though three areas where the perspective might offer new insight: (i) the development of “housing literacy” as a new research focus, (ii) a reflection on technological change and property marketing practices and finally, (iii) some remarks on how the growing interest in rights-based approaches to housing could be extended in work on the home. The paper concludes by making suggestions for further research which makes suggestions for research with implications for housing policy divergence and policy transfer.
2. Yoric Irving-Clarke Housing - Order and Chaos
This paper draws on the work of Carl Jung (1996) and his theory of a collective human unconscious that contains archetypal instincts and images common to humanity. I use historic and current examples from anthropology, sociology, theology and mass media to construct a narrative of bringing ‘order from chaos’ and put the case that this is an ‘archetypal instinct’ constructed from the collective. I draw upon theories from planning, housing and the concept of home to make the case that theory and practice in these areas is driven by the instinct to balance order and chaos; extremes in either direction are deleterious to the human condition e.g. homelessness and chaos, prison and institutionalisation (Foucault, 1991). Further, entrenched rough sleepers have redrawn the rules and found order in a situation that most would find unbearably chaotic. The paper provides insight into what it means to be well housed by drawing on ideas about order and chaos and what happens at the extremes of these by asking:
What are ideal housing conditions? What can the state and the individual do to create the conditions to allow people to flourish and live with the right balance of order and chaos in their lives
What is the role of good housing policy in ensuring people are well housed in the light of the paper?
3. Alasdair Stewart The Folds of Home: the experience of the Janus-faced home amongst formerly homeless young people in Scotland
A diverse multidisciplinary literature on home has emerged. From the meaning of home, to practices of home, and recent explorations on assemblages of home. Each highlighting in turn the importance of the symbolic, practical, and material dimensions. They have unpacked the complexity of what takes place in the home with the relation between home and society relatively unchanged. Often the latter relation is couched in metaphors of mirroring, reflecting, or refracting, whereby we have ‘post-modern homes in a post-modern society’. This creates a difficulty in explaining how multiple, potentially conflicting, societal processes impact the experience of home. This paper draws on the work of Lahire and research with formerly homeless young people in Scotland to develop an alternative metaphor of ‘the fold’. Starting from the pressures experienced by young people in managing an independent tenancy, it is shown how the pressures were experienced and the techniques used to manage them depended on young people’s multiple social positions. These multiple positions formed a constellation of relations acting as a prism through which wider societal processes entered the home, becoming folded and compounded in their home-making practices. Crucially, participants were caught between the expansion of Scotland’s devolved rights-based housing system and neoliberal developments towards punitive welfare and precarious employment. These pressures when folded within the tenancy created a dissonant Janus-faced home. A home that provided relative security and comfort, yet as the young people could not actualise their plans beyond the home was also experienced as a place of boredom and frustration.