Housing, the Capabilities Approach and Life Satisfaction

Coates, Dermot Peter (2014). Housing, the Capabilities Approach and Life Satisfaction. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ee48

Abstract

This thesis examines the relationships between housing, housing satisfaction and quality of life using the capabilities approach developed by Sen and others as a theoretical framework. This approach is used to engage with housing-related themes and as a way of thinking about how housing contributes to quality of life. It also analyses the scope for heterogeneity in these relationships by looking at the housing experiences of migrant communities in Western Europe and the Irish Traveller community. Despite, the growth of interest in the capabilities approach as a way of structuring social science and policy analysis, there is relatively little substantial research that applies the capabilities approach to housing. This is surprising in view of the fact that the neighbourhood in which a person lives and other characteristics of their housing are likely to be associated with their experienced quality of life as well as the opportunities a person has, objectively speaking. Consequently, this thesis is an attempt to address this gap by applying the capabilities approach to the field of housing research.

The thesis is divided into four substantive chapters, each one dealing with a specific aspect of the relationship between housing, housing satisfaction and quality of life. Chapter 2 sets the scene for this study by presenting the results of a critical, broad-based review and summary of the literature with regard to housing, happiness and capabilities. The following chapters build on the foregoing in an empirical context; Chapters 3 and 4 do so primarily with quantitative analyses and Chapter 5 uses a mixed-methods approach including offering some original qualitative research. Chapter 6 summarises what has been achieved and the main contribution of the thesis whilst offering some remarks regarding what might be done in future research and the policy implications of these findings.

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