Acknowledgements

I have many people to thank for the help I have received down the years, but inevitably the line has to be drawn at some random point, beyond which my thanks will be recorded privately. I am still adding to this page, as I have many to thank.

Tom R. Burns: has been one of the most important, a colleague from Uppsala University Sociology Department. He founded the Uppsala Theory Circle as a forum for discussion and was one of the founding members of SCASSS, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences, more recently broadened to include disciplines outside the social sciences and renamed SCAS.  SCASSS was based in its own building, a detached house in Kåbo, Uppsala, within walking distance of the university. SCASSS held weekly meetings and a wide range of scholars from around the world held fellowships there. I would go for lunch there to meet sociologists, political scientists and ethnologists from around the world, followed by attending the seminar for the week.

Tom also encouraged me to apply for docent status (gained 1987), and invited me to a European Institute Workshop in Florence, Italy. My health was already giving me problems, but the workshop was a terrific experience.

Last but not least, Tom introduced me to the work of the successors of Karl Polanyi leading to my article on Society and the State. So this very blog, much of which is about the third era of neoliberalism, is about the work of Fred Block and Margaret Somers.

Sverker Gustavsson: Colleague at Swedish Institute for Building Research until it was closed by the Bildt Government in the early 1990s. After Sverker was appointed  Professor of Political Science at the Department of Government at Uppsala University I asked him if I could attend the seminars being held in the Skytteanum. By then it was the only centrally located seminar series in Uppsala, where at the time we lived. He agreed and provided me with a copy of the weekly seminar paper, photocopied and sent to our home address in Knivsta. This was during the 20o9/10 series. The seminar papers were all of very high standard, as were the seminar discussions. In the summer of 2010 we moved into a house in Ockelbo and this put an end to my ability to attend the seminars. At the same time, in August, I was admitted to the Stroke Unit at Uppsala University Hospital where I stayed for 3 or 4 days, after which I was well enough to leave but my physical condition was poorer. I now write and work by computer from home.

Keith Jacobs and Tony Manci: This was a short but intense period of collaborative writing. We clearly thought the same way about many issues in housing research. The task was a huge one as housing research at the time was very traditional and conservative in its thinking. So the constructionist perspective, power in housing management, a commitment to critical sociology were the main, but by no means the only dimensions we concentrated on. Both Keith and Tony had prior experience in housing management, which filled a gap in my own mainly academic experience.  Our Chapter on Homelessness in the Hutson and Clapham reader of 1999, two articles, one in Housing Studies and the other in Policy and Politics (both published in 2003), the Ashgate 2004 edited book Social Constructionism in Housing Research was the culmination of our collaboration, prior to my taking early retirement at the age of 62. Each in their own way, both Keith in Tasmania and Tony at Westminster University have continued to research and write in housing research, developing around them a group of housing researchers to take the perspective further.

Chris Allen: Chris has been very much a victim of neoliberal ideology in universities. Highly talented and relatively young, he responded to the expectation to publish as well as to teach ever-larger classes  that was resulting in burnout and over-exhaustion. Yet he was prolific in his publications – two books – Crime, Drugs and Social Theory: a phenomenological approach (Ashgate 2007) and Housing Market Renewal and Social Class (Routledge, 2008). You can read a full list of his publications in his home page at Liverpool John Moores University (Liverpool is also his home town).

Apart from the two sole authored books (above) he was joint editor together with Rob Imrie of The Knowledge Business: the commodification of urban and housing research (Ashgate, 2010). What is interesting about this book is that Chris was also reflexively understanding his own situation. The book remains a major contribution to the neoliberal nanny state as politicians try to use political means to influence research.

In addition to the above books, Chris has published, either solely or jointly, a whole tranche of articles in peer-reviewed journals, in Critical Social Policy, Policy Studies, Housing, Theory and Society, International Journal of Urban and Housing Research, British Journal of Sociology, Urban Studies, Housing Studies, and in Society and Space, all in the space of 5 years or less. No wonder he was suffering from burnout. But as usual it was never enough for the line boss.

Stuart Lowe: Teaching on Stuart’s course for local authority housing administrators and housing association officers gave me the opportunity to test my ideas on a class of trained management workers. My initial trepidation was quickly dispelled as they showed great interest and a sort of deja vu insight into their own work. Working with Stuart was a real pleasure and we got on very well. York was also a fascinating experience and Stuart and his wife and sons put me up at their home for my visits there to teach.

When I was teaching at Plymouth Stuart did a great job as external examiner and we also published an article 1998 “Schools of comparative housing research: from convergence to divergence” (with Stuart Lowe) Housing Studies (March) Vol.13 No.2 pp.161-176″. Stuart has also researched and published separately on ex-Warsaw Pact countries and their adaptation to the rest of Europe as monotenural home ow(n)ing countries – mostly the Mediterranean countries between Portugal and Greece, rather than the North European and Scandinavian countries of the EU.

Jane Ball: Author of Housing Disadvantaged People? insiders and outsiders in french housing (Routledge, 2012 – ISBN 978-0-4155-5445-9). This book fills a gap in our knowledge of the French housing system, as the opening paragraph from the back cover of the book shows:

“Social housing appears to offer a solution for the housing of the poor and disadvantaged people. The French ‘right to housing’ offers this demographic priority in social housing allocation, and even a legal action against the State to obtain a social home. Despite this, France is suffering a long-lasting housing crisis with disadvantaged people having particular difficulties of access, often despite the efforts of local housing actors. This situation is affected by the European Court of Human Rights and EU decisions limiting diverse housing and rental policies.”

So the EU with its monolithic approach to housing policy applied to all member states except Germany and Vienna in Austria also applies to France.

Jane Ball is Senior Lecturer in Newcastle Law School at Newcastle University.

David Clapham has been another key contributor to constructionism in housing and in urban studies. The book he edited together with Susan Hutson Homelessness: Public Policies and Private Troubles Cassell, London 1999 (paperback) ISBN 0-304-33896-6 alludes in it subtitle to the C. Wright Mills distinction between private troubles and public issues.

I went to see David while I was looking for key sociologists to combine into a team so as to be able to produce research of sufficient standard and durability to produce a robust alternative to the very conservative and under-theorised body of housing and urban research. He also brought into housing another researcher, Bridget J. Franklin who became a co-author before retiring several years ago.

David, together with Bridget Franklin and Lise Saugéres did their own work on Housing Managerialism: the social construction of an occupational role.

David took over as Editor of Housing, Theory and Society when poor health forced me to take early retirement. He has done – and continues to do – a very fine job of managing the journal.

Hannu Ruonavaara: will, I believe, be taking over the editorship of Housing, Theory and Society at the start of 2015. It is an admirable choice and I wish him all the best. He took great care of us as host at the housing conference in the University of Turku in 1987.

Ray Forrest: The years after 1979, I spent varying periods of time as Visiting Fellow at the School for Advanced Urban Studies (here after SAUS). This turned out to be a real privilege, which began as an invitation from Ray Forrest. Ray was a colleague at Birmingham University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Research where I was based and where I worked together with Valerie Karn and Peter Williams from 1979 to 1983.

The early 1990s was a time of dramatic global changes, with a major housing crisis at the same time as the USSR was breaking up, and along with it came the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. It was also for me a period of intense productivity in which I wrote my second and third Routledge books – Housing and Social Theory (1992) and From Public Housing to the Social Market (2005). Another publication was in effect the draft of the 1995 book was also a product of that period, SAUS Working Paper 120 (Feb 1994)  Understanding European Rental Systems. I still have my original copy. But it can be bought as an opengrey.eu publication. Another working paper from SAUS at that time was Housing and Social Structure: towards a sociology of residence (1992). These working papers and those by other authors can be bought, I believe, as either paper copies or pdf files.

But here I want to acknowledge the encouragement of those at SAUS and the facilities available there. Rodney Lodge was the School’s offices, but it was also a conference  centre, complete with its own well-stocked urban and housing library of about 9,000 books, and 125 periodicals, plus daily newspapers. Rodney Lodge had 58 study bedrooms (half with  en suite individual shower and toilet), a restaurant, coffee bar, offices, computer room, conference and teaching rooms, and a sun-lounge overlooking the inner yard lawn. During my time there I was working on my two last Routledge books Housing and Social Theory (1992) and From Public Housing to the Social Market (2005), and numerous articles and papers.

This was one of the most productive periods of my life. The facilities and the people working there combined to make this possible. The close integration of all facilities and the presence of working researchers created an effective working environment that I had never seen anywhere before or since.

There was a further personal bonus in the proximity of the nearby countryside of Clifton Down. SAUS was in those years located at Rodney Lodge, Grange Road, a short walk – little more than a few steps – from Clifton Suspension Bridge. I often used to cross the bridge for a walk in Leigh Woods. I don’t have a good head for heights, so crossing the bridge was a slightly scary experience. But the Downs and Leigh Woods comprised a key part of my working environment, where I could refresh my head and get some much-needed walking and rambling exercise.

Rodney Lodge was a complex of some size. SAUS had invested in creating a Conference Centre that was all-inclusive with meals provided in the lounge, bar and meals areas. I have 2 undated brochures from SAUS, which comprise a record of the place and how it was to be there. Much of my information is from these two publications.

It was at SAUS that I first used Mac computers, the original Apple Macintosh with its floppy disk drive. Mark Cox was in charge of computers and I was impressed with the simplicity and effectiveness of these early machines. The computer room played a major part in my productivity at SAUS and was where much of my time was spent in writing Housing and Social Theory, producing a chapter a month over 10 months. In the 199os I used to drive down to Bristol for a long weekend of work.

Clifton Village had some good eateries and a range of other shops. So everything was at hand, easily accessed.