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There is a wide swathe, and indeed long history, of UK literature featuring attempts to theorise differentials in housing position and shifting spatial settlement patterns in relation to ethnicity and 'race' (and also, more recently, faith group). Most of the earlier accounts were based on simplified versions of the structure-agency dualism or one or other variant of rational choice theory. Responding to criticisms that these relied too heavily on overly static notions of 'choice' and 'constraint', a few then turned to a form of theorisation that deployed a modified version of Giddens' structuration theory. This paper seeks to take the debate further by developing a model that retains much of the essence of structuration yet embodies a more dynamic and theoretically nuanced interpretation of both structure and agency. Structure, normally seen predominantly as a form of social regulation, will be seen as multi-layered and multi-dimensional and also, importantly, as subject to often unpredictable exogenous factors. The concept of social agency will also be subjected to a radical re-conceptualisation that reflects, amongst other things, recent shifts in social capital theory interpreted in the light of rapid demographic change (influenced by geo-political factors), ongoing social inequality, racism, and heightened inter- and intra-communal tensions in some areas. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.

Original publication




Journal article


Housing Studies

Publication Date





433 - 450