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The unusually large, predominantly municipal, housing sector in the UK has provided the context for a large occupational grouping of "housing managers" that has claimed professional status. However, within the post-1945 British welfare state this professional project enjoyed limited success and social housing remained a fragile professional domain. This article explores the consequences for housing professionalism of the recent displacement of the bureau-professional "organisational settlement" by that characterising an emerging "managerial state". Managerialism constitutes a clear challenge to established forms of "professionalism", especially a weak profession such as housing management. However, professionalism is temporally and culturally plastic. Hence, the demands of managerialism, within the specific context of New Labour's quest for "community" cohesion, may be providing opportunities for a new urban network professionalism founded on claims to both generic and specific skills and also a knowledge base combining abstraction with local concreteness. The prominence in these networks of erstwhile "housing" practitioners may become the basis for a new, quite different, professional project. This argument is developed through both conceptual exploration and reference to empirical research. The latter involves reference to recent work by the authors on, first, the perception of housing employers of the changing nature and demands of "housing" work and its consequences for professionalism and, secondly, the professional project implications of the increasing prominence of neighbourhood management.
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