The paper reviews the usefulness of the concept of social exclusion for Australian social housing policy. We draw on recent theoretical and empirical research from Europe and the UK to develop a critique of the concept of social exclusion. It is argued that any assessment of social exclusion needs to distinguish between its utility as an academic explanatory concept and its political deployment to justify new forms of policy intervention. Policy targeting anti-social behaviour through increasingly more punitive means, for instance, is often justified on the basis that it ameliorates the problems of social exclusion experienced by tenants residing in public housing estates. We conclude that, in spite of the limitations of social exclusion as an analytical concept, for political and pragmatic reasons it is likely to become an important component of the emerging Australian housing policy agenda.
Australian Journal of Social Issues,
Vol. 39, no. 1 (Feb 2004), pp. 25-40