Governing the Experts: reforming expert governance of rural public housing

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Abstract:

Drawing on policy texts and a series of interviews conducted with rural public housing officers in 2005, this paper extends understandings of rural governance by shifting the focus on experts from one of being statically understood as the arbiters of rural government-at-a-distance processes to viewing them as more complex actors in these governmental processes. In particular, as governmentalities change at the centre, rural experts need also to be understood as being vulnerable to becoming targets of governmental problematisations and reforms. The paper does this through analysing how policy discourses during the latter part of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries problematised the delivery of public housing services by housing officers in Australia and New South Wales (NSW). It then provides insight into how resulting reform processes impacted on rural housing officers from four areas in rural NSW. The paper shows that rural governance understandings can be usefully extended to include how governmental change is not only directed towards and affects rural citizenry but also rural experts who perform multiple roles including being administrators, targets, and opponents of rural reform processes.

Keywords: New South Wales; government-at-a-distance; housing professionals; reforms; rural public housing

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049182.2011.569984

Affiliations: Geography and Urban Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Sydney,

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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