A Machine for Governing: Technical Standardization, Mass Housing Provision, and the State in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada

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Forrest, Jacob Anthony




This thesis retraces the historical emergence of housing policy in Canada through a specific technology of power: national building regulations. This thesis argues that national building regulations were formative to the federal state’s emergent claims upon the improvement of residential development during the mid-twentieth century. Drawing upon and developing François Ewald’s concept of the “technical norm,” this thesis uses the case of national building regulations to examine how the federal state became a discursive and material site where mass housing development was governed. In seeking to benefit from standardization, various bureaucrats and industrial actors claimed, negotiated, worked around, and maintained the ostensible ‘objectivity’ of state regulation that national building standards could variably offer them. In this process, national building regulations were used to translate complex housing issues, work processes, and class inequalities into a seemingly technical “problem” of state management.


Canadian History
Sociology - Theory and Methods




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Economy

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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