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A typology of designs for housing research: improving methodological coherence of paradigm, approach and design


Housing research is interdisciplinary involving economics, geography, sociology, architecture, and urban planning and design. It relies strongly on the social and applied sciences, and is therefore subject to policy, theoretical and methodological shifts across these sciences, as well as societal and technological change. These shifts and changes necessitate an expansion and refinement of the traditional spectrum of research designs regarded applicable to housing research, and more careful consideration of concomitant epistemologies and methodologies. We review the methodological literature within housing research, assess the extent to which different designs feature in current housing research, and, using methodological paradigm and core logic as classification criteria, present an expanded and more nuanced typology of designs consisting of 11 prototypes and 42 subtypes. The prototypes include surveys and censuses, experiments, modelling and mapping, textual and narrative studies, field studies, case studies, participatory action research, mixed-method research, intervention research, evaluation research, and meta-research. The typology may serve as a framework for further methodological inquiry and as a heuristic map for researchers to be more creative and considered when designing housing research.

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  1. The status of ‘housing studies’ as a discipline is debated (Allen 2009; Mathews 2016). For the purpose of this article we therefore refer to housing research rather than housing studies.


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JdT outlined the article, conducted the literature review and served as first author. MN facilitated the author collaboration and proposed this article in response to an earlier conference proceeding by himself and BC titled Mapping housing research methods: Enhancing the link between research theory and methods in African housing studies, as part of the Out-of-the Box Conference Proceedings, held on 24–25 October 2018 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology, Pretoria, South Africa. LM and JC conducted the content analysis. All the authors contributed to the review and editing of the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jacques du Toit.

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du Toit, J., Napier, M., Marais, L. et al. A typology of designs for housing research: improving methodological coherence of paradigm, approach and design. Qual Quant 56, 3875–3891 (2022).

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