About Housing Systems and Underlying Ideologies

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This contribution is a reflection on the critical analysis of Mark Stephens of the theoretical work on housing systems by Jim Kemeny. It concludes that the analysis of Stephens is a great incentive to continue the debate on housing and welfare started by Kemeny. The core of the review is that Stephens focusses on the so-called maturation of social rental housing as a replacement of government subsidies: can non-profit housing compete with commercial housing under smart conditions for social sustainability? Stephens is right that this maturation thesis does not hold and he provides convincing evidence for this. However, Stephens contribution neglects an important part of Kemeny’s work: the link between housing and more in particular the role of home ownership in welfare states. Here is work to be done! This contribution concludes with emphasizing the link between housing and welfare systems and its underlying ideologies. Rules of the games such as laws for social rental housing are important, but even more important than laws are day to day beliefs among citizens and professionals of what is right and wrong in housing practice. In other words it needs further research to explore the role of housing in practice of populism and COVID19. How do underlying housing ideologies play a role in current practice and how do and can they change policies and practices in housing in different continents?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557–561
Number of pages5
JournalHousing, Theory and Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • housing ideologies
  • housing policy
  • Housing systems

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