Homeownership, the production of urban sprawl and an unexpected Nightingale

University essay from Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för kultur och samhälle (KS)

Abstract: Homeownership and suburbanisation are two sides of the same coin in the context of Australia. This thesis explores the housing system that facilitates homeownership under a framework of institutional path dependence and how that has facilitated spatial patterns of suburbanization in contemporary Melbourne. Australia has been considered a homeowner society for the larger part of the 20th century. Living and owning a house on a ‘quarter acre block’ in one of its major cities is said to have been a virtue even before homeownership was in reach for the majority of the Australian population. The years after WWII enabled up to 70 per cent of the population to access homeownership tenure. In that, this thesis analyses the institutional, societal and economic configurations that enabled increased homeownership provision, but also the historical processes that further facilitated a system around a dominant tenure. Path dependency theory, developed in the field of historical institutionalism, offers an analytical toolbox to examine long-term processes. In a broad sense, path dependency refers to the continuous reproduction of institutional systems in place. The second part of this thesis examines urbanisation processes in Melbourne, under a framework of institutional and spatial change. Cities are changing environments that, although, they inhabit determinist and reinforcing spatial patterns and institutions, transition over time. By looking at historical and contemporary institutional processes, this thesis examines metropolitan strategies to consolidate the outward growth in the city of Melbourne. Under the aspect of change, current challenges to the built environment are presented. A third analysis connects the macro discussion with a case study of a local housing provider in Melbourne, that in some regards may be viewed as antithesis to the contemporary building regime in the Australian and Melbourne context. As the first in-depth path dependency analysis in the Australian context, this thesis can be viewed as a contribution to the growing body of path dependency literature with a housing focus that also combines the spatial nature of urban environments.

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