Introduces the argument that in the early twenty first century the private home has become a key battleground in a social politics focused on fear, pre-emptive action and architectural fortification. Films, books, fairytales and myths are explored to underline the central importance of the home. Layers of complex and contested meanings have accreted over the basic need for shelter. The role of the home in providing haven, status and privacy, boosted today by celebrity culture, has longstanding philosophical and legal justifications. These have become embedded in everyday life, and their importance is shown through the use of metaphors emphasising the home as a kind of fortress space. We outline the idea that growing rates of homeownership in the UK, the US and Australia, encouraged by neoliberal governments, have led to a perception of housing as wealth rather than as ‘home’. At the same time the concept of a risk society has led to a widespread culture of fear, provoking a withdrawal into the home and an emphasis on control as the primary attribute of legal ownership.
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