Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Housing pathways of disabled people in Scotland

Project Number:



Chloe Maclean (Scottish Government)
Julie Guy (Scottish Government)

Start Date:

6 July 2015



Although by rights disabled people are equal citizens, they currently face vastly unequal opportunities to live in safe, suitable, homes. Disabled people in Scotland face an insufficient supply of suitable housing, often inadequate living conditions, and difficulties in accessing housing support (Capability Scotland, 2011; Inclusion Scotland, 2014; ILS,2009).

Much of the research on disabled people’s housing situations have predominantly focused on the structural barriers disabled people face achieving suitable housing , and have used cross sectional statistical data to explore this – ie a supply and demand approach. The experiences, housing histories, desires, and agency of disabled people in relation to their housing circumstances remains vastly under researched (Dean, 2003; Mackie, 2012; Imrie, 2004). In particular, a holistic understanding of disabled people’s housing decisions is missing.

Housing Pathways is a conceptual framework that seeks to understand individuals/households movements through the housing system by exploring the relationship between individuals/households agency (active ability to shape their own housing situation reflective to: meanings they attach to housing; ambitions; previous experiences; position in the life course) and structural opportunities/constraints (such as class, race, gender, governmental policies, available housing, historical context, norms and values of a society) (Clapham, 2005).

Dean (2003), Mackie(2012), and Beer and Faulkner (2013) follow a housing pathways-style approach to exploring disabled people’s housing experiences and movements through housing. In focusing on young disabled people’s pathways to independent living Dean (2003) identified 5 pathways: satisfied stayers, dissatisfied stayers; left in crisis; left for education; and left in a planned way for other reasons. Comparatively Mackie (2012) identified 3 pathways: a direct pathway to independent living; a staged pathway to independent living; and a return pathway. In looking at the movements through housing of disabled people of all ages in Australia, Beer and Faulkner (2013) found that pathways through housing were largely shaped by the type of disability respondents had: sensory disability pathway; psychiatric disability pathway; mobility impairment from birth pathway; mobility impairment through injury pathway; and developmental disability pathway.

This project seeks to draw on the housing pathways framework to explore the movements through housing of disabled people in Scotland, and uncover how the experiences of housing, meanings attached to housing, and agency of disabled people entwine to construct these pathways and their lived experience. In doing so, this project will provide rich, nuanced and untapped knowledge of disabled people in Scotland’s movements through housing situated within the experiences, meanings, and aspirations that shape these movements.


The ‘Housing Pathways of Disabled People In Scotland’ project seeks to illuminate common routes taken through housing by disabled people in Scotland. Through using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, the project aims to uncover both common patterns of housing consumption by disabled people in Scotland, and the experiences, meanings, and aspirations involved in disabled people’s lived housing pathway.

There are 4 main research questions being explored, one of which hopes to use the SLS as it’s source of data:

  1. What are the common movements (pathways) through housing of disabled people in Scotland?
  2. What are disabled people’s experiences housing, the meanings they attach to housing, and their housing aspirations?
  3. In what ways/to what degree do/can disabled people assert agency in steering their pathway through housing?
  4. What (negatively or positively) influences the housing decisions made by disabled people on these pathways?

Question one will use data from the SLS in order to uncover common pathways through housing representative of disabled people in Scotland. We will look at changes in housing situation (such as tenure, type of accommodation, number of people in household) between 1991 and 2011. From this data we seek to run cluster analysis to identify common housing pathways.


Beer, A. and Faulkner, D.R. 2013. ‘The housing careers of people with a disability and carers of people with a disability.’ Research Paper for the ‘Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’. Available at

Capability Scotland. 2011. ‘’The Future of housing for Disabled people’ Conference report.’ Available at

Clapham, D. 2005. The meaning of housing: A pathways approach. Bristol:Policy Press

Dean, J. 2003. ‘Scotland’s young disabled people: Their housing experiences, aspirations and beliefs.’ Joseph Rowntree Foundation, University of Glasgow.

Mackie, P. 2012. ‘Housing Pathways of Disabled Young People: Evidence for Policy and practice’. Housing Studies. 27(6). Pp 805-821.

Imrie, R. 2004. ‘Disability, embodiment and the meaning of home.’ Housing Studies. 19(5). Pp745-763.

Inclusion Scotland. 2014. ‘A vision for an inclusive Scotland’. Online Publication available at:

Independent Living in Scotland (ILS). 2009. The essential guide to independent living. (accessed May 18th, 2015).

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