housing, sociological studies of

There is not, nor can there be, any uniquely defined sociology of housing. The nature of housing as a physical artefact, its spatial distribution and the terms of its occupancy (physical, legal, financial), are affected by social structures and processes. Conversely, these features of housing have social effects. Thus housing may be seen both as a social construct and as socially causative. A wide range of sociological research considers housing in one or other of these contexts. At least five areas of study may be identified. First, the influence of culture and social divisions (class, gender, and so forth) on housing design. Second, how the distribution of social groups across residential locations is affected by social structures and processes, as for example in studies of urban ecology . Third, how the physical nature of housing and spatial relations between housing units affect patterns of social interaction at the micro-level, that is within and between individual households. Fourth, determinants of housing provision in differently constituted societies (socialist, capitalist, underdeveloped), how these patterns vary cross-nationally and temporally, and the significance of forms of provision for wider social processes (for example, the role of squatter housing in the development of informal economies , political processes, and social movements in Third World cities). Finally, the role of housing in creating or maintaining social divisions or social solidarity, involving (for example) studies of the relationship between housing and class, community, status, gender, race, or forms of consumption. See also consumption sectors ; housing class.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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