Housing Justice with the Capability Approach

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The paper explores an idea for framing housing justice with the capability approach, and how the housing justice framework can guide for the inequality reduction in housing. The changes in the world – such as the growth of wealth inequality, housing financialisation, and the rise of the precariat – indicate that the traditional welfare state models and housing policy directions need to be redesigned. The factors creating inequality in housing are no longer confined to the boundary of a ‘state’. This demands us to reexamine the nation-state-based discourse on inequality. There is a growing consensus that a correction is urgently needed, but debates on guiding principles seem absent. The paper aims to open a debate about this topic and suggests that the housing justice framework with the capability approach can play a role as a guide. Three essential subjects of theories of justice are specified to form a base of the idea for housing justice: (a) the characterisation of ideal institutions; (b) metrics of justice (i.e. capabilities); and (c) distributive pattern rules. The paper concludes that the realisation-focused comparative approach to housing justice is plausible in contrast to the approach that primarily focuses on defining ideal institutions. Housing capabilities need to be compared, and the paper suggests three sub-spaces of the housing capabilities metric to make its concept more workable: opportunities, securities and abilities. The scope of housing justice should not be confined to the distribution of holdings – such as adequate housing – and the notion of redistribution of the welfare states. It concludes that the primary task is to monitor to what extent a housing policy is enhancing capabilities of individuals – real housing opportunities to enjoy, rather than to merely monitor whether a policy has reached the perfectly just distributive rule or threshold. Based on the ideas proposed, the paper draws implications for the role of housing research, particularly comparative housing research, in advancing housing justice in society.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventENHR Conference 2019: Housing of the Next European Social Model - Harokopio University, Department of Geography, Athens, Greece
Duration: 27 Aug 201930 Aug 2019


ConferenceENHR Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleENHR 2019
Internet address


  • Housing policy
  • justice
  • inequality
  • capability approach


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