Housing and Social Re-Stratification

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: 303
Distributed Paper
Yosuke HIRAYAMA , Kobe University, Japan
Ray FORREST , City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
This article looks at transformations in the role of housing in social stratification. During the ‘golden age’ with high-speed economic growth and generous government subsidies, social inequalities were mitigated by the expansion of middle class home ownership and redistributive schemes of providing social rented dwellings to lower classes. However, with the ascendance of neoliberal prescriptions in the ‘global age’, new housing systems oriented towards accentuating the role of market economies in providing and financing housing have increasingly exacerbated, rather than alleviated, social disparities. There have been widening gaps between the market-included and the market-excluded in terms of housing conditions. Moreover, within market spheres, various variables such as the timing of housing purchase, the appreciation and depreciation of housing assets, the nature of housing investment, the condition of mortgage borrowing, family support in acquiring housing, intergenerational transfers of residential properties, architectural profile and location of dwellings and the number of houses owned have been becoming more definitive in creating social cleavages. In varied fields of social science, position pertaining to labor markets has been regarded as most important in explaining the formation of social classes. However, housing and property ownership have increasingly been becoming, and will be, more definitive in reshaping social inequalities. This paper will identify housing related key drivers for social re-stratification and explores housing situations in some exemplar countries such as Britain, USA and Japan in arguing the importance of housing in creating new contours of social inequalities.