Just renting: implications of renting on community, place and identity: an empirical inquiry

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Holdsworth, L 2005, 'Just renting: implications of renting on community, place and identity: an empirical inquiry', in R Julian, R Rottier & R White (eds), Community, place, change, proceedings of the annual conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), Hobart, Tas., 5-8 December, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), Hawthorn, Vic. ISBN: 0959846050.

Peer Reviewed



The goal of owning one’s home, as opposed to ‘just renting’, is deeply embedded in the Australian psyche with homeownership equating to personal attributes such as success and stability, and in turn to status and choice. Homeownership also facilitates a sense of community because it enables the achievement of secure and affordable housing which further contributes to the notion of ‘home’ and belonging to place; it allows people to put down roots and express personal tastes. However, the current ‘free market’ in housing has left the housing market largely unchecked, permitting prices to rise beyond the means of many low-income households. This paper draws on some preliminary findings of a current qualitative study which explores the lived experiences of non-home owning, sole parents (all women) living on the Far North Coast of NSW. These women’s views are discussed against the background of reduced government commitment to social housing on one hand and increased scrutiny and control of vulnerable groups on the other. Data from the study reveals that lack of secure, affordable housing, the inability to express ‘self’ (and therefore identity) and being subjected to greater scrutiny has a profound impact on the experience of community, place and notion of ‘home’.