The Concept of Subjective Wellbeing in Housing Research

David Clapham, Chris Foye, Julie Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
585 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this article is to review the ways in which subjective well-being has
been conceptualized within housing research, with a view to evaluating the use of the concept, the insights it has generated, the problems that have been experienced and the possible range of lessons that might be taken forward. The article begins with an analysis of the reasons why subjective well-being has become popular as a conceptual tool in many fields. The article continues with a discussion of the range of definitions that appear in the literature which leads into discussions of the research techniques and methodologies that have been used in empirical research. Empirical studies which focused on the impact of physical housing conditions and tenure on subjective well-being are reviewed in order to evaluate what is known about the impact of housing on both personal and collective subjective well-being. This review highlights issues of status, reference groups and adaptation that are important insights from the subjective well-being approach that should set the agenda for further research in this area. The conclusion is that the relationship between housing and subjective well-being is a complex one that repays further study in order to understand the rich texture of the role of housing in people’s lives. The article concludes with suggestions for both conceptual and methodological approaches and the focus of future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalHousing, Theory and Society
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2017


  • Housing policy
  • Housing research
  • Well-being


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