This paper introduces the themed section of Critical Social Policy on social housing, privatization and neoliberalism. In tracing the key elements in the development of privatization and residualization since 1979, it argues that these can only be fully understood as part of a wider neoliberalizing agenda, an agenda that is driven by a particular class project. The paper also seeks to re-assert the importance of a critical approach to successive decades of social housing policies in the devolved UK, arguing that the classed basis of housing privatization policies has been largely overlooked by academics in favour of an evolutionary and 'modernizing' framework which isolates developments in social housing provision from other wider shifts in social welfare and in labour markets. Understanding such processes, it is claimed, is a necessary step in the development of a more socially just and sustainable form of housing provision. © The Author(s) 2012.
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