People like us? Social status, social inequality and perceptions of public rental housing

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Journal article

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Journal of Social Policy

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Cambridge University Press


Over the last three decades or so, neoliberal policies have had a significant effect on housing sectors across a wide range of societies. State rental sectors, in particular, have been in the ideological firing line. Portrayed as inefficient, unresponsive, monopolistic and anachronistic, they have been typically marketised, privatised and downsized. At the same time, wider societal changes have impacted on their social role and social composition. The overall effect on many public rental sectors is now very familiar - growing social and spatial segregation, enclaves of concentrated and multiple disadvantage and increased stigmatisation. Against this background, Hong Kong's public rental sector has survived relatively unscathed and continues to accommodate around a third of its households. This paper examines the experiences and perceptions of Hong Kong public rental housing among those within and outside the sector. How are public tenants perceived in relation to ideas of social status and social equality? How do public tenants see themselves? The paper draws on a survey of 3,000 individuals in Hong Kong which is part of a larger study concerned with housing provision and social change in the Special Administrative Region.



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Funding Information

The work described in this paper was supported by a grant from the Central Policy Unit of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Research Grants Council of the Special Administrative Region, China. Exploring Peripheralisation and Residualisation in Hong Kong’s Public Rental Housing: New Policy Challenges (Project No. 956001).

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Recommended Citation

Forrest, R., & Wu, Y. (2014). People like us? Social status, social inequality and perceptions of public rental housing. Journal of Social Policy, 43(1), 135-151. doi: 10.1017/S0047279413000585