A critical review on the notions of housing policy: Toward a capability-oriented-housing policy

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There are increasing calls for housing researchers to critically review housing policy directions. Housing has played a significant role in increasing inequality in capital in the Global North. In the meantime, in the Global South, most housing programmes have benefited only middle-income groups, and failed to benefit the poor and low-income groups, The role of housing is increasingly highlighted in the global agenda, as was addressed in Habitat III and UN-Habitat’s ‘Housing at the Centre’ initiative in 2016. This agenda calls for a paradigm shift in housing policy and practices. This paper investigates to what extent the capability approach can contribute to this paradigm shift. Housing studies and policies have traditionally deeply rooted in the notions of welfare economics and its philosophical foundation of utilitarianism, of which flaws the capability approach critically diagnoses. What implications can the capability approach provide for housing policy directions? The paper explores this topic and presents a conceptual discussion on how the capability approach can be applied to the studies on housing policy. The paper discusses missing perspectives in housing policy and, for the capability approach application, it proposes a need for discussing multi-dimensional housing-relevant-capabilities rather than pre-determining housing as a single-unit and self-evident capability. The discussion remains at a theoretical level. The paper primarily aims to provide a theoretical ground for further research on specific multi-dimensional deprivations that a person may face in his or her housing process, so that these can be used for guiding housing policy directions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Development and Social Inclusion in an Urbanizing World
Subtitle of host publicationHDCA Conference 2018
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventHDCA Conference 2018: Human Development and Social Inclusion in an Urbanizing World - Universidad Católica Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Duration: 30 Aug 20181 Sep 2018


ConferenceHDCA Conference 2018
CityBuenos Aires
Internet address


  • Housing policy
  • capability approach
  • evaluative approach
  • utilitarianism
  • welfare economics


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