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In post-Katrina New Orleans, housing and community development (HCD) advocates clashed over the future of public housing. This case study examines the evolution of and limits to a human right to housing frame introduced by one nongovernmental organization (NGO). Ferree’s concept of the discursive opportunity structure and Bourdieu’s social field ground this NGO’s failure to advance a radical economic human rights frame, given its choice of a political inside strategy that opened up for HCD NGOs after Hurricane Katrina. Strategic and ideological differences within the field limited the efficacy of this rights-based frame, which was seen as politically radical and risky compared with more resonant frames for seeking affordable housing resources and development opportunities. These divides flowed from the position of the movement-born HCD field within a neoliberal political economy, especially its current institutionalization in the finance and real estate sector, and its dependence on the state for funding and political legitimacy.


This work was originally published in Housing Policy Debate.



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