1. House and Home

Back to: The study of ‘home’: a brief literary review

Looks at the uses of the word ‘home’ and how it has changed in historical and social contexts. Home derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘ham’ meaning village, estate or town. However, throughout history of the white Western world, the term has been adopted and used within varying contexts.


  • Berger, J. (1984), ‘And our faces, my heart, brief as photos’, London: Writers and Readers Publishings Cooperative

Berger noted that during 17th century, the rise of the bourgeoisie engendered two kinds of moralists that have displaced the meaning of the term home. First, the ruling classes used the term ‘homeland’ to promote a form of nationalism and patriotism aimed at protecting and preserving their land, wealth and power.  Second, the idea of home became the focal point for a form of ‘domestic morality’ aimed at safeguarding familial property, including estates, women and children.

Contemporary studies that consider the meaning of home include:

  • Madigan et al (1990), ‘Gender and the Meaning of the Home’ in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 14 (4)
  • Dupuis and Thorns (1998), ‘Meaning of home for home owners’ in Housing Studies, 11 (4)

Home in capitalist systems: The valorisation of home ownership in the context of a particular social agenda. Promoting the conflation of house, home and family is seen as a part of a broader ideological agenda aimed at increasing economic efficiency and growth. Madigan et al. argue that the literature on the significance of home ownership variously describes it as a source of personal identity and status and/or source of personal and familial security.

Source: Mallet, S. (2004), ‘Understanding home: a critical review of the literature’ in The Sociological Review, 52(1)

Back to: The study of ‘home’: a brief literary review