chapter  13
13 Pages

‘Underclass’ and ‘ordinary people’ discourses: Representing/re-presenting council tenants in a housing campaign

WithPaul Watt

Researchers in the related fields of urban studies and housing studies have made considerable use

of discourse analysis in order to illuminate various aspects of regeneration and housing policy

(Hastings, 2000; Lees, 2004; Jacobs, 2006). This paper argues that this discourse analytic approach

has thus far tended to concentrate on the readily available texts of state and quasi-state agencies

rather than any other groups involved in the urban/housing policy process. In particular, it has under-examined the texts and discursive practices of activists who contest the parameters set by

policy makers. This paper considers one example of housing activism, a campaign that mobilized

in opposition to a proposed stock transfer of council (public) rental housing in Wycombe District,

a local authority area in southeast England outside London. The paper examines the campaign

literature and letters to newspapers with reference to critical discourse analysis (CDA) and the

work of Norman Fairclough (1995, 2000) and John Richardson (2007).