University of Tasmania
whole_Francis-BrophyEloise2010_thesis.pdf (18.54 MB)

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

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posted on 2023-05-26, 20:46 authored by Francis-Brophy, E
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.


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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 would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). 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

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