Empowerment through tenant participation in local authority housing (1979-1997) : a gendered perspective
The research explores the role of women and tenant participation, considering: i) the gendered nature of tenant participation and ii) the role of tenant participation as a potential avenue of empowerment for women. The case study approach was adopted for this study and fieldwork was conducted in four contrasting local authorities, involving qualitative and quantitative methods to collect data from tenants, housing officers and councillors. The thesis begins by reviewing the role of housing policy under Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997. It identifies the ways in which Conservative policy led to the residualisation of the social housing sector and comments upon the impact of policy on tenants, particularly female tenants, in this tenure. It examines the growth of participation initiatives encouraged by Conservative governments during this period. The study moves on to locate female tenant participation within wider theoretical and political contexts. It addresses the role of housing in women's lives, considering the different value of the home for women and men, and examines the position of women in the public and private spheres in the wider context of citizenship. The concept of participation in relation to the policy-making process is considered, with an analysis of the power dimensions that exist between the various actors involved and the gendered nature of tenant participation. Having demonstrated that differences exist between female and male participation, the study investigates the differences in greater detail, examining how women participate, and establishing criteria for empowerment. The evidence from the fieldwork suggests that tenant participation is indeed a gendered process and, moreover, has the capacity to empower women at several different levels.