Televised territorial stigma: how social housing tenants experience the fictional media representation of estates in Australia

Kathryn Arthurson, Michael Darcy, Dallas Rogers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper explores the issue of territorial stigmatisation through tenantdriven research chronicling the experiences of social housing tenants as they examined and reflected upon the Australian television series Housos. The television series aired on an independent, part publicly funded, television station in 2011 and depicts the lifestyles of fictional tenant characters on an imaginary social housing estate. The series presents satirical and exaggerated parodies about everyday life on the estate, drawing on a range of stereotypes of social housing tenants. Tenants are portrayed as feckless and antisocial individuals who engage in a range of irresponsible and sometimes criminal behaviour in order to avoid work and whose family and other relationships are dysfunctional. Public tenants are far from passive victims of stigmatisation and conducted the analysis presented in this study. They reveal a sophisticated understanding of how stigma operates through the media, various agencies, and the nonresident community. While economic and political forces, and changing modes for governing poverty, have resulted in geographical confinement of residents on estates, tenants reflected on their own 'real-life' experiences and provide accounts of deliberate and self-conscious use of 'negative' social status to produce positive collective identities. Alternatively, nontenant participants repeated common prejudices about public housing, and reflected on their belief that the system was not effectively preventing welfare cheats and 'bludgers' from loafing at their (taxpayers') expense.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1334-1350
    Number of pages17
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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