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The Housing Crisis as an Ideological Artefact: Analysing How Political Discourse Defines, Diagnoses, and Responds

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It is a truism that politicians from countries around the world claim to be in the midst of a ‘housing crisis’. But how do they define it, who is affected, and what is the cause?

This paper provides a critical evaluation of the emergence and scope of political discourse connected to the housing crisis in New Zealand under three National Party led governments (2008-2017), with a view to better understanding the ways in which the issue has been problematized in politics and operationalized in policy. It finds that although researchers draw upon multiple strands of evidence and recognize housing as a complex problem, the political framing of a housing crisis is simpler and shows a closer relationship to long standing ideological perspectives, notably an inefficient planning system and low supply of development land. This raises critical questions for how housing researchers can better influence politics and challenge both the lived experience of crisis and existing claims of normalcy.

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