Description - Council Housing and Culture by Alison Ravetz
Born of idealism, and once an icon of the Labour movement and pillar of the Welfare State, council housing is now nearing its end. But do its many failings outweigh its positive contributions to public health and wellbeing? Alison Ravetz here provides the first comprehensive and apolitical history from which to arrive at a balanced judgement. Drawing on the widest possible evidence, from tenant and government records to the built environment itself, she tells the story of British council housing, from its seeds in Victorian reactions to 'the Poor', in philanthropy and model villages, Christian and other varieties of socialism. Her depiction of council housing in its mature years shows the often bizarre persistence of 'utopian' attitudes (whether in architectural design or management styles); its rise to a monopoly position in working-class family housing; the many compromises consequent on its state finance and local authority control; and the impact on working-class lives as an intellectuals' 'utopian dream' was converted into a social policy for the masses. The outcomes of this social experiment, whether for individuals or society, are at least debatable.
Council housing may be obsolescent but the story revealed here highlights many unresolved issues of continuing importance today. What, in any give period, constitutes poverty and how should society treat its poor? How best, if at all can the culture of poverty be reformed by the state? Is the old Welfare State approach redundant or might it yet be relevant? Whatever the answers found, the British council housing experiment is not to be simply written off as a tragic mistake - by a strange quirk of fortune, its retrieval now gives rise to daring strategies for regeneration that could become templates of a new and more responsive democracy in future years.
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(234mm x 156mm x mm)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
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Author Biography - Alison Ravetz
Alison Ravetz is Professor Emeritus of Leeds Metropolitan University, and has written extensively for more than 25 years on the history of housing, cities and planning.