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Keywords:

  • Housing bubble;
  • credit crunch;
  • buy to let;
  • broken society;
  • marketization;
  • social justice;
  • well being

Abstract

This paper examines the key causes and social consequences of the much debated UK ‘housing bubble’ and its aftermath from a multidimensional sociological approach, as opposed to the economic perspective of many popular discussions. This is a phenomenon that has affected numerous economies in the first decade of the new millennium. The discussion is based on a comprehensive study that includes exhaustive analysis of secondary data, content and debate in the mass media and academia, primary data gathered from the monitoring of weblogs and forums debating housing issues, and case histories of individuals experiencing housing difficulties during this period. This paper is intended to provide a broad overview of the key findings and preliminary analysis of this ongoing study, and is informed by a perspective which considers secure and affordable housing to be an essential foundation of stable and cohesive societies, with its absence contributing to a range of social ills that negatively impact on both individual and collective well being. Overall, it is argued that we must return to viewing decent, affordable housing as an essential social resource, that provides the bedrock of stable individual, family and community life, while recognizing that its increasing treatment as a purely economic asset is a key contributor to our so-called ‘broken society’.