Women and homelessness: The relevance of European welfare regimes.
To date, no published research has focused on women's homelessness within the comparative housing context. This thesis bridges that gap. In doing so, the thesis fuses the three theoretical frameworks of welfare theory, comparative analysis and feminism and social policy to reveal the similarities and differences between the "homelessness systems" of England, Ireland and France and how these systems respond to homeless women. The thesis demonstrates the value of using welfare typologies to ground comparative research but also shows how dominant welfare theory is inherently gender blind by its over reliance on the dichotomies of the state and the market. The thesis shows how welfare regime theory places an undue emphasis on paid employment to the detriment of women's unpaid labour as carers of children thereby reinforcing the gender stereotypes on which welfare typologies depend. By using Leeds, Cork and Lyon as instrumental case study cities, the thesis reviews the nature of each country's distinct welfare approach within a feminist review of welfare theory in England, Ireland and France. The institutional risk to homelessness for women in each case study country is assessed by focusing on four interrelated variables which have consistently been identified as causing and perpetuating homelessness amongst women. In assessing the institutional risk, reference is made to notions of modern risk society. The four variables selected for the analysis were: domestic violence; relationship breakdown; poverty and being a household type of a single parent family. Analysis of primary data from homelessness professionals in each case study city revealed that whilst being a single parent family was most frequently identified by respondents as a primary trigger to homelessness in women in the three case study cities, this institutional risk was substantially reduced in Lyon. The research has also shown significant variations between countries in respect of the relative risk posed by poverty, domestic violence and relationship breakdown and the thesis relates these differences to key debates surrounding welfare regime theory and feminism. The thesis highlights women's over reliance on state sponsored solutions to homelessness both at the point of housing crisis and in the longer term, despite the variation in homelessness systems, the nature and level of "social" housing stock and the relative ideological commitment towards homeownership in each country.
- PhD