Facial reconstruction

Search LJMU Research Online

Browse Repository | Browse E-Theses

On Theory, Knowledge and Practice in Housing and Urban Research: A Phenomenology of Conflict and reconciliation

Allen, C (2018) On Theory, Knowledge and Practice in Housing and Urban Research: A Phenomenology of Conflict and reconciliation. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

2017AllenPhD.pdf - Published Version

Download (496kB) | Preview


One year before my academic life began, Jim Kemeny published a book called ‘Housing and Social Theory’ (Kemeny 1992). This book has had a major impact within European housing and urban research over the last two and a half decades, not least by crystalizing its epistemic divisions into ‘mainstream’ and ‘critical’ (Webb 2012). In the face of Kemeny’s critique, ‘mainstream’ housing and urban researchers have remained wedded to ‘policy oriented’ empiricist approaches about which they have been defensive. In fact, it could even be argued that policy oriented housing researchers have been emboldened during this period. On the other hand, some housing and urban researchers have spent the last 25 years exploring the relationship between housing and social theory with a view to developing a more ‘critical’ understanding of housing and housing policy. My own work falls into this latter category and can be broken down into three phases (represented in the three parts of this thesis) which all bear the hallmarks of Kemeny’s influence, to greater or lesser degrees. Kemeny’s influence is most obvious in part I of the thesis. This contains a series of papers that represent my attempts to develop a sociology of housing and housing research. Although my initial contributions to the literature focussed on the social construction of housing problems and policy, my subsequent interventions recognise that it is not enough to focus ‘critical’ theoretical attention on policy issues alone; the context of research practice, itself, requires the same critical theoretical attention. This recognition set me on an intellectual track that resulted in published contributions to the sociology of knowledge literature, within the entrepreneurial context of the contemporary university. These contributions examine how entrepreneurial contexts shape academic subjectivities and the sociological episteme. If part I of the thesis finds sociology useful in illuminating housing policy and housing research practice then part II contains a book and two papers that call it into question. The origins of this ‘hostile turn’ towards sociology are in two pieces of research (into the lives of heroin users and visual impaired children) where sociology had hindered my attempts to develop an adequate knowledge of the phenomena under the microscope. The publications in this part of the thesis embrace phenomenology to make theoretical sense of the limits of the sociological episteme and to develop a more adequate understanding of the lives of heroin users and visual impaired children. They also set me on an intellectual path that led to my theoretical development of a more fundamental critique of housing and urban research and, eventually, a constructive and reconciliatory resolution to what I have argued are its epistemic limitations. The book and two papers contained in part III of the thesis were produced in conditions of acute conflict. The book and ‘fallacy paper’ were written in response to the controversial housing market renewal programme but were contextualised within my wider intellectual concerns about the fundamental problems of housing and urban research. They represent a full-frontal intellectual ‘attack’ on the professional enterprise of housing and urban research and its social consequences. The ‘impact’ paper was written and published 5 years later, following a ‘career break’ during which I had reflected on the fundamentally conflictual nature of housing and urban research and sought nonviolent alternatives to such conflict. It outlines a reconciliatory approach to housing and urban research that is true to the intellectual argument in the ‘fallacy paper’ whilst seeking to outline and advance the possibilities for collaboration between housing and urban researchers and their constituencies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Housing, Theory, Knowledge, Phenomenology, Conflict
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 09:29
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2022 10:00
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00007787
Supervisors: Chalcraft, D
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/7787
View Item View Item