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Understanding urban development processes: Integrating the economic and the social in property research

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Guy


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In their treatment of development, researchers in the property sector tend to adopt positivist methodologies which emphasise the application of rational decision-making techniques by utility-maximisers within a mainstream economics paradigm. While considerably increasing our understanding of the development process, such research offers a partial view of its subject from a particular perspective. Recently, alternative methodological and theoretical approaches have evolved which strive to understand the wider institutional context of the development process. The paper critically reflects on these institutionalist approaches in order to develop a research framework which blends economic and social analyses of property development processes. The paper draws upon (re)interpretations of the authors' recent research to address the following points. First, that the economic structuring of development is a product of and, in turn, affects social processes. This is illustrated by a consideration of the price mechanism in the property market. Secondly, that social structures and processes are as important as their economic equivalents in 'explaining' property development. This is addressed by a discussion of the ways in which recent shifts in the social organisation of the property sector are reframing the strategies of development actors, leading to new structures of property provision and use. The paper concludes by arguing for the need to develop an understanding of property development processes which combines a sensitivity to the economic and social framing of development strategies with a fine-grain treatment of the locally contingent social responses of property actors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Guy S, Henneberry J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2000

Volume: 37

Issue: 13

Pages: 2399-2416

Print publication date: 01/01/2000

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1080/00420980020005398


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