Uses of macro social theory: a social housing case study

Bevan, Chris and Cowan, Dave (2016) Uses of macro social theory: a social housing case study. Modern Law Review, 79 (1). pp. 76-101. ISSN 1468-2230

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This article reflects on the use of macro social theoretical perspectives to explain micro social issues. It uses social housing allocations as a case study of the issues that arise in such explanations. There has been a number of important social theoretical examinations of social housing allocation schemes in recent years, spanning socio-legal studies. In contrast to those other studies, we argue that “cookie-cutter” theory is insufficient because they can overlook other positions and counter-factual scenarios. We draw on a sample of local authority allocation schemes to reflect on the increasing category of excluded households which we term “unhouseables” (an expression which is commonly used by housing officers) – those households which are excluded from appearing on such schemes because of their former housing deviance or some other disqualification. We offer a set of reflections grounded in our data, which focus on sustainability. Thus, rather than point to particular rationalities or the like, we point to particular housing issues as explanatory factors – including the declining stock and financial “competitiveness” of social housing management – as well as a rise in punitiveness.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Bevan, C. and Cowan, D. (2016), Uses of Macro Social Theory: A Social Housing Case Study. The Modern Law Review, 79: 76–101, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Keywords: Allocation, Qualification, Social housing, Arrears, Anti-social behaviour
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Law
Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-2230.12167
Depositing User: Bevan, Christopher
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2016 13:18
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2017 18:22

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