Public housing and territorial stigma: towards a symbolic and political economy

Publication Name

Housing Studies


This article illustrates how the stigmatization of public housing in Australia has been co-constituted by material and symbolic forces over several decades. Drawing on discourse analysis in conjunction with historical-institutional analysis of housing policy trajectories and the place of housing within political-economic change, it shows how territorial stigmatization can be understood as the product of media, policy and social scientific discourses which problematize public housing as well as histories of policy reform and political-economic restructuring which shape its social, material and institutional conditions. The discursive problematization of public housing estates in particular works to obscure the role of restructuring and reform and thus present demolition and redevelopment as a ‘common sense’ response, even as a form of destigmatization. The understanding of stigmatisation that this article advances—as a recursively symbolic and political-economic process—is therefore conceptually significant and important for critically evaluating government interventions in the context of stigma, including claims of destigmatization.

Open Access Status

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