Previous Housing and Communities Research Network events

Seminar 1: 5 March 2013

Finding a Way to Measure Social Impact

Row of terraced housesVanessa Wilkes, doctoral research student, Housing and Communities Research Group, was the main speaker at the first Housing and Communities Research Network seminar in March 2013. Vanessa talked about her research 'Finding a way to measure social impact: The institutional work of individuals within housing organisations'.

Research by the National Housing Federation (NHF) has indicated that many Housing Organisations (HOs) continue to invest heavily in additional services and facilities for their communities. Further to this, research has shown that HOs are adopting social impact measurement tools and methodologies to demonstrate their accountability.

Although studies into the subject of social impact measurement have grown, they remain primarily located within the grey literature, written mainly by practitioners, with a strong practical focus. There has been little academic research of the integration of social impact measurement tools and methodologies into the organisation.

This paper is drawn from Vanessa's PhD research which looks at how organisational fields at a macro level, and the institutional logics which they contain influence the work which is undertaken by individuals at a micro level. Drawing on primary data from six case studies, Vanessa's research seeks to present a broader perspective and provide additional insights into the challenges faced by housing associations as they seek to identify and adopt appropriate tools and methodologies from what is becoming an increasingly crowded and confusing environment.

The paper introduces the concept of Institutional Work which focuses on ‘creating, maintaining and disrupting institutions’  to place this research within a theoretical and sector specific context. Vanessa's research examines the Institutional Work of individual actors tasked with implementing an impact measurement methodology or tool into their organisation.

Download Vanessa's presentation 'Finding a way to measure social impact: The institutional work of individuals within housing organisations' (PDF) 

Seminar 2: 7 May 2013

Putting the Social Back into Housing - learning from Localism

David Mullins, Housing and Communities Research Group, gave a presentation on 'Putting the 'social' back into housing - learning from localism'.

Cave dwellings in a Georgian monasteryThis paper reflects on the UK policy landscape for social housing in the wake of austerity, localism and the big society. It explores some of the key contradictions in this landscape that are creating ‘Antisocial housing’ through far reaching reforms of ‘Big Housing’ while at the same time promulgating localism through community-led housing. It questions who community-led housing is for and could be for. It explores whether localist models hold any prospects for transforming Big Housing itself into a more community orientated sector. What would it take for Big Housing to Go Local? Could this enable a reassertion of a social mission to respond to current challenges from a reform mandate undermining the traditional social solidarity role of safe, secure and affordable homes and communities? The paper ends by introducing some perspectives from across Europe to inform future research on localism and social housing.

Download David's presentation 'Putting the 'social' back into housing: Learning from localism' (PDF)

Exploring potential of community-led housing from Austrian co-operative perspective on ‘vertical social capital’ - linking with the local

The second presentation was from Richard Lang, Research Fellow, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business and Plowden Fellow, Housing and Communities Research Group

Community-led housing has strong connections with the co-operative housing tradition, and international experience in this field therefore has strong relevance for implementing localism today. The experiences from studying the Austrian case suggest some success conditions for co-operative governance that may usefully be explored in the very different context of localist social innovation in England. The Austrian case shows how co-operative governance can influence the creation of important ‘linking social capital’ in local communities.

Public promotion and institutional support beyond local governance have enabled professionalised housing co-operatives to leverage community ideas and practices leading to a solidarity-based housing policy. However, it also shows the risk that hierarchical and bureaucratic governance cultures of public promotion can endanger bottom-up resident action in co-operatives and so community-led social innovations may lose their dynamic.

Download Richard's presentation 'Exploring potential of community-led housing from Austrian co-operative perspective on 'vertical social capital' - linking with the local' (PDF)


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