Decent, secure housing provides more than just a roof over someone’s head. It is a place of safety and security. It can promote health and well-being and inform life chances. My work has sought to expose and understand inequalities in access to these benefits within the UK housing system; related processes of urban transformation; and associated consequences for people and places. Particular areas of interest include the politics and provision of social housing; discrimination in the housing system; and hidden and neglected experiences of particular groups.
The Politics of Community
This stream of work has focused on the new politics of community that has gained ascendency within public policy making. The focus has been on exploring and critiquing the processes through which particular places are increasingly portrayed as spatial containers of social failure, allowing social problems to be localised and thrown back at places to resolve themselves through the reinvigoration of community. It has included analysis of the shift in policy from tackling inequality and disadvantage toward correcting the behaviour of social groups / communities seen as deviant. A key concern within this strand of work has been on the community cohesion agenda. More recently, I have explored the application of resilience thinking to the social world, focusing on the concept of community resilience.
Since the 1990s, the flows of people between different locations across the globe have become larger in volume, more varied in form, and increasingly complex in nature as a result of various transformations in political, economic, and social structures. In the UK, these global trends have been manifest in a marked rise in the arrival of foreign nationals from a wide range of countries of origin, who have moved through a diversity of migration channels and been allocated different legal statuses. A new geography of settlement has emerged, with many new migrants moving beyond the locations that traditionally served as reception points for new arrivals into the UK, and settling in locations with little history of accommodating diversity and difference. The result is a situation of increasing social and demographic complexity that surpasses anything previously experienced in the UK. My research has sought to explore and understand this complexity and associated experiences and consequences for new arrivals and settled populations. A key feature of my contribution has been the insertion of an appreciation of place into analysis of migrant experiences, community relations and processes of integration.
The housing needs of older people
Population ageing - involving a shift in population toward older ages - is an established global trend. The increasing number of older people in society is prompting demand for an array of new and extended services capable of meeting their diverse needs and preferences. This includes demand for a wider range of housing options. Central has been an emphasis on provision that supports older people to live independently. My work is exploring success in delivering against this ideal. The focus is on exploring opportunities and choices within a housing system increasingly shaped by the contingencies of the market rather than by social policy.