From housing crisis initiative to public issue: Justifications Analysis of land-use proposals in the public sphere

Morgan Hamlin (2022)

European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 9(2), pp. 226-247

Abstract. This article demonstrates how Justifications Analysis can be used to understand how citizens effectively politicise land-use proposals in the public sphere. I examine a proposal to develop housing on a public reserve in Auckland, New Zealand, and the moral justifications employed by supporters and concerned citizens. Invoking market and civic justifications, supporters de-politicised it as a partial solution to the housing crisis. In response, concerned citizens politicised the proposal with an anti-privatisation argument that denounced its market evaluation. Drawing on civic and green justifications, they morally evaluated the reserve as a space that should be protected for its recreational and environmental significance. My findings support and extend earlier studies that utilise Justifications Analysis and Boltanski and Thévenot’s justification theory. I reveal how public responses to land-use proposals can be understood as culturally informed political acts that transform seemingly apolitical topics into public issues that are contestable in the public sphere.


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