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Rabu, 06 Juni 2012

Race, Housing & Community by Harris Beider - Book review

Race, Housing and Community

Perspectives on Policy and Practice

By: Harris Beider

Published: March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1405196963
ISBN-13: 978-1405196963
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

"Housing has been a key metaphor for race and community cohesion. Indeed, housing publications have illuminated the discourse on race and more latterly, community cohesion. Policy analysts have generated research, guidance and impact measures on race and community cohesion", writes Professor in Community Cohesion at Coventry University, Harris Beider, in his research based and policy oriented book Race, Housing and Community: Perspectives on Policy and Practice. The author describes the dynamics of race, housing, and community cohesion through a systematic approach to stimulate discussion and debate on these topics.

Harris Beider understands that the intertwined topics of race, housing and community cohesion are not simply esoteric and theoretical issues for the exclusive consideration by academics. Instead, the author proposes finding common ground for discussion between both the academic community and policy makers. Harris Beider considers this fusion of ideas and worldviews to form a foundation, for developing a new agenda, for a more full discussion. To create context, the author provides a background to how contributions from academics contributed to public policy decisions; and the limitations of that former approach to the topics.

Harris Beider (photo left) provides an overview and analysis of the key trends taking place in housing and race that are taking place in contemporary society. The book focuses on race and housing. The author presents evidence to recommend the necessity of developing a new framework for discussion and policy making. The latter part of the book offers an alternative framework, but prior to discussing a new approach, the author considers it important to understand the failings of the existing concepts.

Harris Beider describes the shortcomings of the existing paradigms that exist in the current literature on the subjects. He points out that these typologies have created the basis for legislation and other public policy formulation. The existing frameworks include:

* Passive culturalism
* Social conflict,politics, and power
* Choice and constraint
* Cultural resistance

For me the power of the book is how Harris Beider creates a fresh approach to creating policy alternatives for addressing race, housing, and community cohesion. The author demonstrates the limitations of the previous approaches to the topics, and how they were all failures in very fundamental ways. The author also recognizes the shifting demographics of the different groups and cultures, rendering much of the previous paradigm outdated and ineffective. Harris Beider offers the idea of opening dialogue between academics, policy makers, and the communities.

While not prescribing specific policy measures, the author places his emphasis on creating an effective process of creating a fusion and synthesis of ideas and approaches. Out of this cross pollination of ideas from different sectors, new and effective solutions, policies, and programs are the expected result. Even if those concepts have limitations, the dialogue remains to discover even more effective ideas and policies in the future.

I highly recommend the systematic and framework focused book Race, Housing and Community: Perspectives on Policy and Practice by Harris Beider, to anyone in academia, students of race and housing, public policy makers, business leaders, and community organizers who are seeking a workable framework approach to the topics of race, housing, and community cohesion. This book will open the dialogue to creating a fusion of ideas to further the conversation to create stronger community relations and cohesion.

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