Linking Social Capital: A Multi-Scalar Approach to the Governance Capacity of Cooperative and Community-led Housing

  • Project

    Problem Background and Relevance

    In the wake of the economic crisis and the search for innovative solutions to affordable housing, cooperative housing organisations have gained increasing attention across Europe. Cooperative initiatives are also considered increasingly important for fostering social cohesion in European city regions. The social nature of their governance is seen as a potential advantage over other forms of housing provision when it comes to strengthening social bonds, collective identity and residents’ participation in the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, the potential of cooperative organisations for real community empowerment is not always well understood or evidenced. Furthermore, research debates on the changing role of cooperative providers in different EU member states are only weakly connected. Thus, contextualised research approaches are needed to deliver a realistic picture of the capacity of cooperative and community-led housing organisations to empower residents.


    The fellowship project aims at developing a typology of different international cooperative and community-led housing models (Community Land Trusts, Self-help Housing, Community Self-build Housing, Co-housing, Baugruppen etc.). Furthermore, for each of these housing models, the governance capacity to empower residents will be analysed. This organizational capacity refers to building linkages to both residents in neighbourhoods and resource holders in the wider institutional environment (‘linking social capital’). On a broader scale, the research intends to deepen the inter-European dialogue and inform international debates on the new role of cooperative models in economy and society.

    Methodological Steps

    • Develop an analytical framework to study social capital building in co-operative housing.
    • Develop a typology of different cooperative governance models derived from the literature, empirical field work and international experiences.
    • Assessing and comparing the contributions of different organisational and territorial cooperative governance models to ‘linking social capital’ through…
    • qualitative case studies of innovative community-led housing projects and
    • a quantitative comparative study between the cooperative sectors in Austria and England.

    Institutional Setup

    This international study is funded by an APART-fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and a Marie Curie Fellowship of the European Union. The project will be hosted at the Institute for Innovation Management (IFI) at JKU and conducted in cooperation with Professor David Mullins, head of the Housing and Communities Research Group at the University of Birmingham in England.

    You can follow Richard’s Marie Curie Fellowship updates and outputs here.

    Newsfeed on Conference on Housing Research on 9th July 2018

  • People

    • Richard Lang

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