Balancing the formal and the informal: the relational challenges of everyday practices of co-operation in shared housing co-operatives in the UK

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Abstract

This paper explores the challenges of everyday practices of co-operation in UK shared housing co-operatives, situated within literatures that stress the relational basis of these practices and the centrality of ‘critical associations’ to the conduct of everyday life. Shared housing co-operatives, based on mutual ownership and co-residence between unrelated adults, represent a radical departure from both the traditional landlord/tenant model of shared housing and newer models of shared provision such as co-living developments. They allow sharers to access affordable housing through effectively become their own landlord. Yet the practices of co-operation that generate these benefits are challenging, necessitating high levels of commitment to a common ethos and involving an unusual mix of both formal and informal ways of relating to co-residents. These features are explored in this paper. The paper concludes that, despite wider societal pressures towards the commodification of housing, the structures and norms of shared housing co-operatives allow them to transcend the strengths and weaknesses of their membership at any given time, and hence facilitate an unusual alternative to more widespread models of sharing in the private rented sector.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial & Cultural Geography
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Mar 2020