"Pillars" of the welfare state: Postwar mass housing in Belgium and the Netherlands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter focuses on the post-war social housing programs of two of the most elaborate corporatist welfare-state regimes in Europe: the hierarchical or “pillarized” models of society in Belgium and in the Netherlands, each of which gave rise to very different results in architecture and housing. It stresses two somewhat contrasting points: first, that even among societies with close cultural ties, the course of social housing policy and architecture could flow in sharply different directions; but second, that “social Catholicism” provided a prominent common thread in the construction of the welfare state in many parts of Western Europe, including the Low Countries. The private homeownership discourse in Belgium in some ways resembles the laissez-faire ideological formulation of “the American Dream.” In the Netherlands, by contrast, the coalition of the Catholic “pillar” with the socialist alliance, combined with the strong national emphasis on planned development, led to different policy and architectural outcomes. Here the changing political coalitions, the competing visions of national and municipal authorities, and architectural expertise codified in regulations, standards, architectural manuals and other documents showed how modern housing policy could develop over a long period of time despite changes in governing parties and cross-pillar coalitions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitecture and the Housing Question
EditorsCan Bilsel, Juliana Maxim
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781351182966
ISBN (Print)9780815396024
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Architecture


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