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Discourse And Action

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I posted this on another thread but thought it relevant to this section on 'market psychology':

"I think one of the major differences from the last boom and bust, other than the low interest environment, is the the discourse environment that has been generated by VI spin, half truths, distortions of the truth and propaganda (via TV property programmes, websites, magazines, and of course word by mouth). It is not just the underlying objective economic fundamentals that operate in the market. It is the ongoing social construction of the 'truth' of the market that has a major impact on sentiment and hence the beliefs and behaviour of joe and jane public. The 'truth' is negotiated rather thanb being an objective absolute truth. Hence many people believe that high and rising house prices are a good thing is 'true'. They also believe that the 'truth' is that house prices never really fall and that you are rich because of the equity in your house and that if you want to see house prices fall you are a 'doom-monger' and all round idiot and spoilsport. The discourse environment that has been manufactured by the VI's has been, and remains, incredibly powerful. Some of us on HPC, sometimes, feel the power of the discourse seeping into our thinking and belief systems. It is insidious and nasty in the way it operates. However, it is a constructed 'truth' which means that it is open to being deconstructed and reconfigured. We do a lot of this in all our 'talk' on HPC. Where we have fallen down is by not making the effort to challenge the VI discourse directly and doing our utmost to give access to and expose joe and jane public to an alternative 'truth' of the UK housing market. For example - that high and rising hopuse prices is a bad thing and is damaging the quality of life of large swathes of the population - that falling house prices will create positive opportunities for potential FTB's and current owner occupiers who want to move up the ladder - that high and rising house prices has meant that large numbers of the population are being left with less and less money to put towards their pensions, savings, paying of bills and their day to day quality of life - that high and rising house prices has been making Estate Agents, mortgage lenders, and other VI's richer and richer whilst making us poorer and poorer - and so on.

I do think one particular fundamental we should be directly challenging is the lending practices of mortgage lenders. As long as the lenders are willing to lend such large amounts of money to people the public will pay whatever prices are asked for property that the lending will allow them to purchase. Economic common sense and reality has gone out the window because the power of the VI discourse environment has made that common sense and reality invisible, or if visible has turned it into 'not true'.

I think, and always have, that we should be more active in using the potential of HPC to tackle the issue of house prices head on via the discourse environment. At a minimum I think it would help us to feel less helpless and less like passive victims of circumstance. There is an awful lot we could be doing!"

I also think we could usefully look at sociology as well as psychology in relation to house prices and the property market in the UK and elsewhere. Discourse is, of course, a very influential concept in psychology and sociology and the bounderies between academic disciplines is very unclear at times (which is a positive rather than a negative). In particular I think it would be useful for people to explore the social construction of social problems. Theory in this field looks at how some issues become recognised as social problems whilst others do not irrespective of the objective social conditions. That is, some issues if look at and measured objectively should be recognised by society as a social problem but in fact are not given that recognition and status. Other issues, according to objective measurement, are really quite insignificant but are given the status and recognition of being a major social problem. Many theorists in this field use discourse to help explain how subjectivity can override objectivity. I think these kinds of processes are in operation in regard to house prices and the property market. Objectively it can be argued that house prices are too high and are heading for a fall/crash (i.e. evidence of a major social problem) but the discourse environment generated by the VI's has made this invisible (not a recognised social problem).

What I also like about social problems theory is that this field has demonstrated time and again that small groups of people (claimsmakers) have often played a very significant role in generating recognition for an issue as a social problem and in challenging and changing the dominant discourse environment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, a very interesting point about the discourse of home ownership and the construction of social problems.

Interests come into it strongly though IMO. Why is the locking out of home ownership of the young not presented as a social problem? Because there is an intergenerational conflict of interest about house prices and the means of mass communication are more sympathetic to the older generation?

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very good point,maybe it's because the powers that be don't give a sh1t!!!!!

they,and the poiticians are in "bubble -wrap",they are too short-sighted to see the needs of others,or frankly couldn't give a monkeys!!!

the politicains are all of similar age,so it is conceivable that the jilted generation are equally as heartless back as the boomers enter retirement....if any of them were ever bothered to go into politics.

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  • 2 months later...

Here are some publications to look at for anyone who wants to follow up my arguments (re: discourse and action + my argument that HPC should be including discourse analysis in its analysis and arguments about the housing market):

The Rhetoric of Economics (Rhetoric of the Human Sciences S.) (Paperback)

by Deirdre N. McCloskey

Product details

• Paperback: 235 pages

• Publisher: The University of Wisconsin Press (April 1998)

• Language English

• ISBN: 0299158144

• Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank: #160,534 in Books

(Publishers and Manufacturers: Improve Your Sales)

• Other Editions: Hardcover | Paperback | Unbound | All Editions



In this revised second edition, Deirdre McCloskey demonstrates how economic discourse employs metaphor, authority, symmetry and other rhetorical means of persuasion. "The Rhetoric of Economics" shows economists to be human persuaders and poets of the marketplace, even in their most technical and mathematical moods. It is further enhanced by three new chapters and two new bibliographies.

Economics and Language (Economics & Social Theory S.) (Paperback)

by Willie Henderson

Economics as Discourse: An Analysis of the Language of Economists (Recent Economic Thought S.) (Hardcover)

by Warren J. Samuels

Social Policy and Discourse Analysis: Policy Change in Public Housing (Hardcover)

by Greg Marston

Goverment Discourse and Housing: Post-Structuralist Approaches to Policy Practice (Urban & Regional Planning & Development Series) (Hardcover)

by Jago Dodson

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Here are a couple of books about the social construction of social problems. The first one is very accessible and easy to read. The second book is probably more suitable for those of you with higher degrees.

Thinking About Social Problems: An Introduction to Constructionalist Perspectives (Social Problems & Social Issues S.) (Hardcover)

by Donileen R. Loseke

Our Price: £27.50 + £1.99 sourcing fee & this item Delivered FREE in the UK with Super Saver Delivery. See details and conditions

Product details

• Hardcover: 238 pages

• Publisher: AldineTransaction (April 1999)

• Language English

• ISBN: 0202306194

Reconsidering Social Constructionism : Debates in Social Problems Theory: Social Problems and Social Issues (Hardcover)

by James A. Holstein

Our Price: £57.95 + £1.99 sourcing fee & this item Delivered FREE in the UK with Super Saver Delivery. See details and conditions

Product details

• Hardcover: 560 pages

• Publisher: Walter de Gruyter (1 Dec 1993)

• Language English

• ISBN: 0202304566

Now you just need to combine discourse analysis and the social construction of social problems theory and apply it to the UK (and other) housing market to produce a revealing and relevant analysis of the market. I have given a very brief, and simplified, explanation above and in previous threads. There are theoretical and empirical grounds that support the need for action as opposed to letting economic fundamentals sort out the problem of stupidly high house prices.

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