2001 volume 19(1) pages 103 – 121
doi:10.1068/d39j

Cite as:
Goodchild B, Cole I, 2001, "Social balance and mixed neighbourhoods in Britain since 1979: a review of discourse and practice in social housing" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19(1) 103 – 121

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Social balance and mixed neighbourhoods in Britain since 1979: a review of discourse and practice in social housing

Barry Goodchild, Ian Cole

Received 6 July 1999; in revised form 14 March 2000

Abstract. In Britain, current interest in social balance has arisen partly as a response to increased management difficulties in social housing and partly in response to the concepts of the underclass and social exclusion. Social balance is now endorsed in some, but not all, the relevant urban policy statements of the New Labour government elected in 1997. A modified form of poststructural discourse analysis offers the best way of understanding the term and its implications. The approach focuses on different levels of social reality -- the level of a national policy, the level of management and estate upgrading, and the level of the social experience of residents. In doing this, the approach reveals the varied and occasionally contradictory meanings of the term 'social balance'; it highlights the increasingly common attempts by social housing agencies to control the characteristics of their tenants; and it enables a sceptical assessment of the practical significance of mixed housing estates for poor individuals and households.

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