Exploring the Bond between People and their Social Housing: a London Based Study
A growing literature suggests our homes have a particularly powerful symbolic and psychological significance (Graham et al., 2015). In the UK, the certainty of safe, secure, and affordable housing for the most vulnerable in our society is under threat (Schrecker and Bambra, 2015). Historically, social housing was considered the solution to the housing crisis; however, its public perception as a desirable housing tenure has changed substantially (Thompson et al., 2017). This research aimed to explore the social processes, which underpin and determine the bonds people have with their social housing, communities, identities, and relationships with society. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve people living in social housing in London. Data was analysed using Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology and a theoretical model was co-constructed. Participants described their homes as representing bonds to places, people, and histories, which provided them a sense of security, safety, and belonging. These bonds were perceived as pivotal for their psychological wellbeing and informed how they view themselves. Participants experienced social and political discourses about social housing and its inhabitants as acts of discrimination and maltreatment. They described their housing being viewed as a commodity resulting in the neglect, fracturing, and erosion of their homes, local areas, families, and communities. As a result, many discussed ways of resisting its dismantlement. The research highlights important implications for Psychologists, other healthcare professionals, social housing communities, the housing system, and the government.
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