Property and power in the English countryside: the case of housing

Somerville, Peter (2013) Property and power in the English countryside: the case of housing. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 5 (2). pp. 100-117. ISSN 1756-1450

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse and reflect on the changing relations of class and power in rural England, with a particular focus on housing. Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews the evidence concerning the changing ownership of housing and land in English rural areas, and the problems relating to this. Findings: The paper finds that, in spite of huge social changes over the course of the 20th century, relations of class and power in rural England have retained the same basic form, based on landownership. The countryside continues to be dominated by landowners, who now include large numbers of nouveaux riches, while the landless (and carless) find it increasingly difficult to access housing, employment and basic services and amenities in rural areas. Landowner dominance is maintained not only by the rule of private property and property markets, but also by a state planning system that is heavily biased towards landowning classes and against the poor. Research limitations/implications: The paper recognises that the situation varies from one rural area to another, so that solutions to the rural housing problem need, so far as possible, to be locally negotiated. However, for reasons of space, the paper does not go into detail on this issue, apart from a few references to the situation in Lincolnshire. Originality/value: The paper is original in the way it shows how "old" and "new" gentry, in spite of their differences in terms of "productivism" and "post-productivism", have shared class interests and values based on landownership rights. It is also the first to argue that rural gentrification is a form of revanchism - a thesis that has previously been applied only to urban areas. Data that have been previously argued to show the superiority of rural areas, e.g. fewer homeless, higher incomes, etc. can now be explained as effects of revanchism. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Keywords:Affordable housing, England, Gentrification, Productivism, Rural areas
Subjects:L Social studies > L430 Public Policy
L Social studies > L231 Public Administration
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
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ID Code:11579
Deposited On:05 Dec 2013 15:59

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