Engels and the Housing Question: 150 years on

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29 January 2023

Three housing experts, Linda Clarke. Michael Edwards and Paul Watt examine Engels' analysis of the housing question.

Is Engels’ analysis of the housing question still relevant today? Three housing experts, Linda Clarke. Michael Edwards and Paul Watt, debate this question. How far does the current housing crisis in Britain resemble the housing question as Engels analysed it? Market forces continue to drive people out of city centres, for a start. Our panellists identify some of the issues that weren’t so evident in Engels’ time, such as the changing nature of state intervention, building industry organisation, the expansion of social housing, the roles of local authorities and the unions, and the increasing influence of the financial sector. What could a progressive government be doing in response? How to ensure that decent housing is provided as a right? And how to link housing struggles with the wider struggles that are being waged, fighting for a more sustainable future for us all? 

Linda Clarke is Emeritus Professor at the University of Westminster, researching labour and vocational education and training (VET) in the construction industry across Europe.  She is very active in current policy debates and contemporary housing struggles, with a focus on VET, gender equality, zero carbon construction and the role of unions.

Michael Edwards has been based at University College, London, teaching and researching on planning and property markets, both internationally and in London. For many years he has been and continues to be very actively involved in housing and planning struggles.

Paul Watt is Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Geography, Birkbeck, University of London. His latest book 'Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London' was published by Policy Press in 2021. Paul is also actively involved in housing struggles and policy debates.