University of Tasmania
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Dwelling in the private rental sector : older women, housing security and the experience of home

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:51 authored by Zappia, GM
As Australia's population ages, the demand for housing in the private rental sector is expected to increase. Yet, private renting continues to be a problematic tenure that has proved difficult to regulate. Households subsisting on income support payments ‚Äö- Newstart Allowance, Age Pension and Disability Support Pension ‚Äö- are particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of the tenure. Empirical research has drawn attention to the fragile housing circumstances of women who are ageing in the private rental sector and it is claimed that this distinct group are at risk of experiencing first-time homelessness. This thesis contributes to the nascent research by exploring how older women who are renting achieve housing security and experience 'home'. Pierre Bourdieu's (1990a) 'theory of practice' is used as a heuristic framework for understanding how women renters embody the tenured dwelling (space) to the experience of 'home' (place) and for exploring their socialised subjectivities. Analysis of interviews undertaken establishes how 'home' is best understood as a feature of the 'field' (the Australian housing system). I argue that the women strive to affect housing security and positive experiences of 'home' by negotiating the possibilities and constraints of their position as long-term renters. I claim that the women's capacities for influencing 'home' (the embodied place), social identities (as long-term renters), privacy (in the tenured dwelling) and choice (to affect future housing circumstances) determines their achievement of housing security. The conclusion is that the capacities of older women renters to affect their housing pathways are shaped by the interplay between broader structural conditions and the 'habitus' of a social milieu.


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