By Andrew Beer
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Extra resources for Housing transitions through the life course: Aspirations, needs and policy
However, ‘the most rapidly growing family type is the stepfamily, created when a new partnership is formed by a mother and/or father who already had dependent children’ (Ferri, 2004, p 22). Ferri also emphasised the novelty of growing ‘social’ as opposed to ‘biological’ parenting ‘as more and more men raise other men’s children, while, in many cases, their own children grow up elsewhere’ (Ferri, 2004, p 24). They ‘will receive the most generous state pensions of any generation and will also have gone through their working lives in a period of high growth in real wages and real asset prices, both in housing and the stock market’ (Banks et al, 2004, p 28).
Clapham’s (2002; 2004) housing pathways need to be interpreted with reference to these other, very substantial, bodies of scholarship. In common with some other commentators (Kemeny, 1992), Clapham (2002; 2004) argues that much housing research is both atheoretical and overly focused on government policy. He considers this to be a major failing on two levels: first, governments do not directly influence housing outcomes for the vast majority of the population within advanced economies, and research is inadvertently skewing our understanding of housing market processes and outcomes.
Globalisation also reshaped the capacities of governments to direct economies and the Thatcher and Major Conservative governments chose to withdraw from direct regulation of economic activities. These trends are reviewed in an ESRC report (Stewart and Vaitilingam, 2004), which uses a variety of data sources2 to chart what the Chief Executive of the ESRC described as ‘dramatic changes in our society in just the past few decades’ (Diamond, 2004, p 5). Such changes have been accompanied by growing diversity of living arrangements that cannot sensibly be captured by one ‘life course’ or ‘household life cycle’ model.