Building Bridges for Studies of Housing Quality

Roderick J. Lawrence


Housing quality is complex since it is not an absolute nor a static concept. It is relative, context dependent and varies overtime. Housing quality has two interrelated sets of components: the economic, social and physical components of the residential  environment, and the perceived meanings, values and uses of these. In this article I show why it is necessary to account for the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of a wide range of factors that  constitute housing quality. I argue that these factors vary according to the societal context in which they occur. Therefore they must be identified and understood before they are studied, Unfortunately, this has not been common practice. This depends on conceptual, institutional and social barriers that hinder the formulation and implementation of more integrated approaches. I present a conceptual framework, definitions and principles for overcoming these obstacles that have been applied in a study of housing quality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland.

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