The Paradox of Tenant Empowerment: Regulatory and Liberatory Possibilities



McKee K & Cooper V (2008) The Paradox of Tenant Empowerment: Regulatory and Liberatory Possibilities. Housing, Theory and Society, 25 (2), pp. 132-146.

Tenant empowerment has traditionally been regarded as a means of realising democratic ideals: a quantitative increase in influence and control, which thereby enables "subjects" to acquire the fundamental properties of "citizens". By contrast governmentality, as derived from the work of Michel Foucault, offers a more critical appraisal of the concept of empowerment by highlighting how it is itself a mode of subjection and means of regulating human conduct towards particular ends. Drawing on empirical data about how housing governance has changed in Glasgow following its 2003 stock transfer, this paper adopts the insights of governmentality to illustrate how the political ambition of "community ownership" has been realized through the mobilization and shaping of active tenant involvement in the local decision-making process. In addition, it also traces the tensions and conflict inherent in the reconfiguration of power relations post-transfer for "subjects" do not necessarily conform to the plans of those that seek to govern them.

Social housing; Community ownership; Tenant participation; Empowerment; Governmentality; Foucault

Housing, Theory and Society: Volume 25, Issue 2

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date30/06/2008
Publication date online19/05/2008
Date accepted by journal19/05/2008
PublisherInforma UK Limited

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Dr Kim McKee
Dr Kim McKee

Senior Lecturer, Housing Studies

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