Aidan Beatty
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Privatised utopias
in Private property and the fear of social chaos
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Chapter Five stays in the United States, studying housing in the Truman era and how, after the horrors of the Second World War, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) actively promoted suburbanisation and an idealised vision of the white nuclear family. The combined effects of the Great Depression and the war effort meant there was a serious housing shortage in the USA after 1945. Within the Truman Administration, there was often an open anger against a real estate industry that was perceived to be uncooperative in solving this crisis. Yet the eventual programme privileged privately built and privately owned single-family homes (conventionally holding three or four bedrooms, thus subtly insinuating how many children a couple should have), with mortgages generally only made available to white applicants. I place all this in the broader context of American welfare provision – which has tended to favour the inviolability of private property – and its sustained racial and gendered underpinnings. This chapter draws extensively on archival material from the Truman Presidential Library.

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