From Public Housing to the Social Market: Rental Policy Strategies in Comparative Perspective

From Public Housing to the Social Market: Rental Policy Strategies in Comparative Perspective

From Public Housing to the Social Market: Rental Policy Strategies in Comparative Perspective

From Public Housing to the Social Market: Rental Policy Strategies in Comparative Perspective


"In this volume, Jim Kemeny develops a new approach to the comparative study of rental markets. The framework used takes the concept of the process of maturation of non-profit rental housing as its starting point. It shows how two broad policy strategies have been developed to channel maturation in different ways. These are the 'dualist' system of state control of non-profit renting, which residualises it and protects profit renting from competition. This strategy is used in English-speaking countries, and Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand are presented as case studies. The other strategy is to develop a 'unitary rental market' by integrating non-profit renting with profit renting to create a single rental market. This strategy derives from the German concept of the social market, and Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland are presented as case studies. Jim Kemeny shows how each system derives from differences in the representation of vested interests, is informed by different assumptions governing how markets operate, and gives rise to different sets of policy problems. Offering a radical critique of the orthodox view, it is argued that the time is now right for English-speaking nations to abandon state control over cost renting and allow it to compete directly with profit renting, as in the 'unitary market' model. International in scope, this dynamic, innovative volume will be of great interest to researchers in housing, sociology and related fields." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This book is a critical study of comparative renting and reconstructs the field along more theoretically explicit and conceptually developed lines. As such, the book can be seen as a natural follow-up to its more general predecessor, Housing and Social Theory. It is a study of one specialist area within housing studies that can be understood as exemplifying the wider task that faces housing researchers in developing more theoretically rigorous housing studies. The need for a book of this sort which attempts to escape from the dead hand of mindless empiricism in one area of housing is itself a lamentable comment on the state of the field of housing studies.

Unfortunately, comparative rental housing is no under-developed backwater of housing studies. I have not picked on an easy target. On the contrary, the area has engaged the attention of some of the finest and most respected housing researchers. The failure on the part of housing researchers to conceptualise this one specialist field in housing can, with a few outstanding exceptions, be repeated across the board in housing studies.

That failure is, of course, shared by us all. We are all, including myself, unwitting accessories to the fact. My earlier comparative work has all the shortcomings that I am critical of in the following pages. For this reason, too, the choice of comparative renting as my focus is not blindly random. It follows from a long-standing interest in trying to understand the international structuring of forms of tenure, and why there are such major differences in patterns of housing tenure between otherwise similar industrialised societies.

In The Myth of Home Ownership published over a decade ago I was aware of the distinctiveness of Sweden’s rental market, and of its importance in understanding Sweden’s internationally low rate of owner occupation. However, I did not realise that the Swedish rental market shared many characteristics in common with a number of

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