Contesting public accountability: A dialogical exploration of accountability and social housing

Stewart Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyses the interaction between neoliberal inspired reforms of public services and the mechanisms for achieving public accountability. Where once accountability was exercised through the ballot box, now in the neoliberal age managerial and market based forms of accountability predominate. The analysis identifies resistance from civil society campaigns to the neoliberal restructuring of public services which leads to public accountability (PA) becoming a contested arena. To develop this analysis a re-theorisation of PA, as a relationship where civil society seeks to control the state, is explored in the context of social housing in England over the past thirty years. Central to this analysis is a dialogical analysis of key documents from a social housing regulator and civil society campaign. The analysis shows that the current PA practices are an outcome of both reforms from the government and resistance from civil society (in the shape of tenants’ campaigns). The outcome of which is to tell the story of the changes in PA (and accountability) centring on an analysis of discourse. Thus, the paper moves towards answering the question – what has happened to PA during the neoliberal age?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-243
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Public Accountability
  • Social Movements
  • Social housing
  • Critical realism
  • Neoliberalism


Dive into the research topics of 'Contesting public accountability: A dialogical exploration of accountability and social housing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this