Homes, housing and communities

Exploring the experiences and development of homes, housing and communities – and where policy should go. A new set of pages that we will be adding to over the next few months.

contents: pioneers | explorers | theory, policy and practice


Henrietta Barnett, social reform and community building. Henrietta Barnett is, perhaps, best known for the development of Hampstead Garden suburb, but she – with Samuel Barnett – was an important social reformer. Their most notable innovation was the university settlement – but they were also active in other arenas.

Octavia Hill, housing and social reform. Octavia Hill (1838-1912) made a defining contribution to the development of a more enlightened approach to the provision and management of housing for working people. Her championship of playgrounds, the army cadet corps and access to common lands and the countryside more broadly were also important. See, also in the archives: Octavia Hill Space for the people.

Robert Owen, New Lanark and the institute and schools. Robert Owen’s educational venture at New Lanark helped to pioneer infant schools and was an early example of what we now recognize as community schooling. Yet education was only a single facet of a more powerful social gospel which already preached community building on the New Lanark model as a solution to contemporary evils in the wider world. Ian Donnachie investigates. See, also in the archives: Robert Owen: An address to the inhabitants of New Lanark.


Charles Booth – mapping the impact of poverty and acting to improve things. Booth’s work in gathering data around poverty and wealth, both deepened the processes of social research and extended the attention given to it. He made a lasting contribution to the analysis of poverty and the development of government intervention to improve the situation faced by many.

Pearl Jephcott, youth and the lives of ordinary people. Pearl Jephcott produced a series of influential studies of the lives of young people, and was an important figure in the development of thinking about youth club work. She also undertook a number of studies that added significantly to our appreciation of working class life.

Richard Sennett: Class and the new capitalism, craftsmanship, cooperation and cities. Over 50 years Richard Sennett has contributed to our understanding of the experiences of class, capitalism and the life of cities – and our appreciation of Homo faber – humans as makers, users of tools and creators of common life. We explore Sennett’s life and work and reflect on his achievements.

Peter Willmott – community, family and public policy. Peter Willmott (1923-2000) played an important role in deepening appreciation of the experiences of people in families and local communities. As a sociologist, researcher and communicator he was able to speak to some of the most important concerns of his time. We assess his work and contribution.

Theory, policy and practice

Neighborhoods and regeneration – theory, practice, issues. For all the talk of changing lifestyles, neighborhood still plays a fundamental role in many people’s lives. We explore the nature of neighborhood, some current issues associated with ‘disadvantaged’ neighborhoods; and what can be done to regenerate them.

Sustainable communities and neighbourhoods. theory, policy and practice. In recent years there has been much talk of the need for sustainable communities. But what is a sustainable community? Why do neighbourhoods matter and why is sustainability important? What are the implications of debates around sustainability for community policy and practice?

Exploring the nature of social action [through a walk in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in London]. This area has experienced severe poverty and disadvantage over the years. Settlements, missions and various government bodies have been involved in trying stimulate change – and some notable innovations were made. However, support and important change has also come from local people and their organizations.


Community auditing/profiling and neighbourhood statistics. We suggest some basic and quick steps you can take to gather information about a particular neighbourhood in Britain or Northern Ireland.

Acknowledgements: picture: Bermondsey west by sarflondondunc | flickr ccbyncnd2 licence


Last Updated on May 18, 2020 by