What is the Meaning of ‘Social Mix’? Shifting perspectives in planning and implementing public housing estate redevelopment

Kathryn Arthurson, Iris Levin Azriel, Anna Ziersch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    ABSTRACT: This paper unravels a variety of perspectives about the concept of social mix, drawing on a case study of the implementation of a redevelopment project in Melbourne. The first part provides a theoretical overview of two internationally predominant academic debates around policy interpretations of this concept, namely social mix as a means for promotion of social inclusion; and as a state-led form of gentrification. These two arguments are usually presented as one, with social inclusion and reductions of concentrations of disadvantage one side of the ‘social mix policy’ coin, and state-led gentrification the other. This paper contributes to the national and international literature on public housing estate regeneration and social mix policies through exploring the question of whether these two ideas about social mix were shared by different stakeholders as the ‘messy’ process of redevelopment unfurled. Interviews were conducted with public tenants, homeowners and homebuyers, private renters and local service providers at the Carlton Housing Estate to explore the diverse perspectives of various stakeholder groups as estate design and implementation shifted. The study identified that as a result of the global financial crisis and the developers exerting pressure on government there was a gradual move away from perceiving social mix as a policy tool for encouraging social inclusion at Carlton, between public housing tenants and private residents, towards a different form of social mix and inclusion. Contrary to intentions, the revised form of social mix at Carlton was perceived as a means to harness market capital and attract higher income residents to the inner city.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)491-505
    Number of pages15
    JournalAustralian Geographer
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


    • community renewal
    • mixed communities
    • public housing
    • regeneration
    • social housing
    • Social mix
    • tenure mix


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