Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

The politics of need accounting for (dis)advantage: public housing co-operatives in Western Australia

Lacroix, Carol (2007) The politics of need accounting for (dis)advantage: public housing co-operatives in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Front Pages
Download (18kB)
PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (1MB)


Concerns about the nature of poverty and how to achieve equitable resource distribution are rife in Australia where, as elsewhere, welfare resources are becoming increasingly scarce. At the heart of these concerns are questions about access: in particular, how to ensure that the least affluent are able to access the resources they require. At the same time, there is a growing sense that cultural as well as social factors are central to patterns of unequal distribution, especially in a neo-liberal context where there is a deregulation of social and economic structures, and a shift to consumption or lifestyle capitalism.

This thesis employs Bourdieu's theoretical framework of capitals to examine the nature of affluence (and therefore poverty) in Australia, the processes that facilitate access to material resources by the affluent rather than the poor and, ultimately, the notion of need that underpins questions of choice, access and resource allocation. Drawing on interviews with members of publicly funded housing co-operatives in WA, an example of welfare housing that simultaneously represents an example of a deregulated symbolic economy and an expression of the contemporary lifestyle movement, I highlight key resources and interests that distinguish these individuals as affluent, as well as some of the cultural and social processes that enable them to convert their resources into the subsidised housing. Based on this analysis, I then interrogate the frameworks for understanding poverty that regulate the distribution of welfare resources, and argue that these were central to the ability of the more affluent to secure publicly funded housing resources. In particular, I examine the new multidimensional frameworks for understanding poverty in terms of their ability to recognise key resources and processes.

I argue that Bourdieu's framework - as a resource based framework that accounts for cultural as well as social and economic factors in the (re)production of advantage and disadvantage - represents a worthwhile inclusion into theories and policies that are concerned with accounting for poverty and ensuring that residual welfare aims are met.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Supervisor(s): Thiele, Beverly
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year