Social justice and localities : the allocation of council housing in Tower Hamlets
This thesis is concerned with social justice in the distribution of social goods from public institutions. It seeks to determine applicable theoretical perspectives of social justice suitable for allocating council housing. The thesis reviews different moral principles related to procedural and distributive justice concepts in the rationing of public goods. The research particularly draws on views proposed by authors who have theorised social justice as universal or pluralist in nature and for groups, institutions or territories. Literature and policy concerning the pnupose and history of the council housing sector and the relationship to social justice also informs the work. Emphasis is placed on housing as a basic human need and the links to disadvantaged and excluded groups and localities. Research techniques are triangulated in four case studies, of council housing in Tower Hamlets, between 1984 and 1998. Public and restricted documents concerning administration of council housing in the borough and interview data with tenants and housing officials are used in two case studies. Computerised data from housing records are used in a further two case studies. The research showed that the intervention of the Commission for Racial Equality, using a legal interpretation of social justice, led to actions that reduced discrimination in the housing allocation system. Within the borough localities, the research identified decentralised governance and stakeholders actions as contributing and influencing the contestation of justice in housing procedures and outcomes. New tenancies analysed in terms of different concepts of social justice, showed that some criteria of justice were met, but those placing strongest emphasis on reducing inequalities were not achieved. The location of housing received by groups in Tower Hamlets appears to contribute to continuing spatial polarisation. New residential areas perpetuated disadvantage for some groups.