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Poverty and depressed estates: a critique of Utopia on trial.

Spicker, Paul


Paul Spicker


Alice Coleman's Utopia on Trial explains the incidence of social problems in council housing in terms of the design of the estates. This paper offers an alternative explanation. Many issues which appear to be problems of planning, design, maintenance or administration are directly attributable to the lack of resources of the tenants. Poor people are concentrated in specific locations through the process of urban development, the effect of social choices, and their own lack of power to find alternatives. Many problems with their housing, like inadequate heating or lack of maintenance, depend directly on what the tenants can afford. The incidence of poverty, and the problems which arise from it, add in turn to the undesirability of the estates. Coleman's dismissal of the influence of poverty is based on an unsound method and an inadequate theoretical analysis. Her recommendations for policy are in consequence a diversion from the real needs and issues.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 30, 2007
Journal Housing studies
Print ISSN 0267-3037
Electronic ISSN 1466-1810
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 4
Pages 283-292
Institution Citation SPICKER, P. 1987. Poverty and depressed estates: a critique of Utopia on trial. Housing studies [online], 2(4), pages 283-292. Available from:


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