Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Walker, Margath

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Imbroscio, David

Committee Member

Imbroscio, David

Committee Member

Kinahan, Kelly

Committee Member

Deck, Stacy

Author's Keywords

fair housing; fair housing act of 1968; housing policy; critical discourse analysis; AFFH; housing segregation


This qualitative research project is an immersion into the beliefs, ideas, meanings, values, and feelings of actors engaged in shaping local housing policies. The dissertation examines how discourse constitutes and shapes the knowledge of policy actors engaged in fair housing policies and practices in Louisville, Kentucky. I argue that policy discourse is the site where social problems become framed, bounded, and transformed into action. Therefore, if the objective of the Fair Housing Act’s mandate for HUD and its recipients is to operate programs in a manner that “affirmatively furthers fair housing” (AFFH), it is essential to understand the discursive acts and social practices shaping policy. The analytical framework for this research applies a “critical lens” by using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to study how meaning within housing policy practices is produced, reproduced, and transformed through language and discourse between policy actors. The research design involves a mixed-methods approach including semi-structured interviews with key policy actors to verify and establish context and textual analysis of key housing policy documents and related local news stories with a fair housing element since 2003. Findings of the research demonstrate the roles that power, ideology, and veiled assumptions play in directing local implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s objectives, especially the AFFH mandate. I argue that discursive strategies, such as ensuring “choice” and pursuing “dispersal” outcomes, contribute to sustaining power, ideology, and veiled assumptions that continue to limit local implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s objectives, especially the AFFH mandate. I find that policy actors advocating for fair housing have been able to contest and resist the dominant discourses through raising awareness of the legacy and enduring consequences related to housing segregation and fostering a race-conscious policy approach. Through CDA, the research aims to fill a gap in the literature regarding the ways that assumed meanings and the actions of planners and housing policy actors have contributed to and perpetuated power struggles and a lack of progress on matters of housing justice.