Accounting for accounting’s role in the neoliberalization processes of social housing in England: A Bourdieusian perspective

This paper seeks to account for how accounting is implicated in the neoliberalization processes of social housing in England. It adopts a processual view which instead of conceptualizing neoliberalism as static and 'end-state', views it as a dynamic process of neoliberalization. We draw upon Bourdieu's notions of field, capital and habitus to frame our study. We focus on reform of the regulation of social housing in England during the period 2006 -2016. We show that the process of neoliberaliztion of social housing in England was instigated by the state's intervention to change the structure of the field in terms of norms, power relations and positions of players on the field. These changes brought about simultaneous changes in the habitus of the field as well as the structure and habitus of Housing Associations as sub-fields. We demonstrate how these changes create and reproduce a new system of domination where the tenant is the dominated player. We highlight the role accounting played in these changes in terms of being used as a tool by the regulator to achieve social control and drive change within Housing Associations and by the Housing Associations to evidence conformity with the new norms and adaptation.