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Alfie Moon

Discourse And Potential For Action

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Thought I'd give this a bit more exposure on the main forum:

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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Alfie, the problem is and remains that the people you wish to target with that message will never come to a website like this. You need a more mainstream platform in order to target mainstream opinion.

The very concept of this site is akin to herecy for your average punter who thinks high house prices are a good thing.

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DoubleBubbleTrouble, what my arguments (from day 1 of joining HPC) have been about is using the large number of HPC'ers to take action via letter writing, writing to MP's, creating and distributing leaflets, stickers, badges, taking part in local and national elections (via HPC candidates), etc., etc. I think your website is excellent and I would encourage as many people as possible to support and be active for your website.

Action does not necessarily have to be about trying to get people to visit HPC although I think that would be worthwhile, and indeed your website.

Your comments re:

"the problem is and remains that the people you wish to target with that message will never come to a website like this. You need a more mainstream platform in order to target mainstream opinion.

The very concept of this site is akin to herecy for your average punter who thinks high house prices are a good thing."

are a result of the current discourse environment and the current negotiated 'truth' of the UK property market. However it is a socially constructed/negotiated 'truth' which makes HPC the website and the content of postings on HPC a 'herecy'. And boy is that discourse generated by the VI's given a lot of power. The power of this discourse even invades active people like yourself and difuses your will to action (to some extent). Indeed it provides all the arguments for inaction - there is no point - it's all down to fundamentals - people will view us as extremists - etc., etc. From a discourse and action analysis standpoint you have to make sure that current discourses do not act to paralyse you from taking action to dismantle current discourses and 'truth' and replace them with new discourses and 'truth'. As I said in my first posting there is a large body of empirical research in the field of 'social problems' research that demostrates that groups smaller than the membership of HPC have successfully challenged established powerful discourses in society and replaced them with new discourses and 'truth'. It is not easily done but it is possible. Whilst much of the analysis on HPC is very good it does not provide all the answers and the one of the major ommisions in the analysis is the role of discourse and the social construction of 'truth' - imo.

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I get the distinct feeling the majority of HPC'ers seem to believe that can have no influence on the market and policymakers whatsoever, that all the odds are stacked against them and their voice and actions can make no difference.

Of course this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Consequently there doesn't seem to be much appetite at all amongst the HPC community for any direct action. This is a shame since a little concerted effort can have surprising results.

Edited by DoubleBubbleTrouble

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I agree with you DoubleBubbleTrouble.

It is a great shame. A great deal could have been achieved in the last few years. I strongly believe that we should have, and should do, entered what Michel Foucault (French academic and philosopher who died in 1984) termed a 'battle of discourses'. Unfortunately the discourse environment that the VI's (although not VI's alone - they get the opportunistic use of existing discourses in society) not only helps give their arguments, statements, etc. the status of 'truth' but also acts to paralyse and/or restrict the potential of HPC, PricedOut, and other similar websites by making it seem 'common sensical' that we can do nothing but talk amongst ourselves and wait to see if we are right about what will happen to the property market. The VI's have made tremendous use of the discourse environment without being challenged in any proper way and have, effectively, been laughing all the way to the bank. I think there may have been initial concern as to what HPC might do and achieve at the beginning (witness Kirsty's famous TV interview where she lost it). However, since the potential of HPC has never been realised the VI's have realised that, for them, HPC is a benign presence. HPC is no real threat. HPC'ers believe they can do nothing. This reflects Focault's 'panopticon' - a type of prison architecture where the prisoners learn to monitor their own behaviour and don't misbehave or cause trouble because they believe (even though they are not in reality) they are under constant survellience. The infusion of VI discourse by HPC'ers that argues that 'action is pointless' makes sure that we monitor ourselves and don't go beyond certain boundaries to cause trouble and don't disrupt the discourse environment that the VI's have created. In effect the VI's don't need to police us because we police ourselves!!!!!!!

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The only fact that needs to be taught to the would be FTB is that houses in , for example the West Country only cost £80k plus £5k for land and services.

The VI are doing all they can to hide the fact that the current prices include about £100k for land. This is purely a tax.

Educate the FTB with respect to this and stand back and watch.

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The only fact that needs to be taught to the would be FTB is that houses in , for example the West Country only cost £80k plus £5k for land and services.

The VI are doing all they can to hide the fact that the current prices include about £100k for land. This is purely a tax.

Educate the FTB with respect to this and stand back and watch.

We would love to educate everyone about the artifical cost of land along with the other myths that persist i.e. high house prices are good for people (we'll leave the prices never go down myth to HPC as it's doing a great job on that front already).

The problem is we have to get in front of them first.

BTW have you seen; http://www.labourland.org/

Edited by DoubleBubbleTrouble

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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.

Here's your (or someone elses) chance to put your money where your mouth is

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/ques...ime/5007832.stm

Just a thought...

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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