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Housing Cooperatives and Social Capital: The Case of Vienna

  • Richard Lang

    ()

  • Andreas Novy

    ()

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    Drawing on the case of Vienna, the article examines the role of third sector housing for social cohesion in the city. With the joint examination of an organisational and an institutional level of housing governance, the authors apply an interdisciplinary, multi-level research approach which aims at contributing to a comprehensive understanding of social cohesion as a contextualised phenomenon which requires place-based as well as structural (multi-level) solutions. Using a large-scale household survey and interviews with key informants, the analysis shows an ambiguous role housing cooperatives play for social cohesion: With the practice of “theme-oriented housing estates”, non-profit housing returns to the traditional cooperative principle of Gemeinschaft. However, community cooperatives rather promote homogenous membership and thus, encompass the danger to establish cohesive islands that are cut off from the rest of the city. Furthermore, given the solidarity-based housing regime of Vienna, fostering bonding social capital on the neighbourhood level, might anyway just be an additional safeguarding mechanism for social cohesion. More important is the direct link between the micro-level of residents and the macro-level of urban housing policy. In this respect, cooperative housing represents a crucial intermediate level that strengthens the linking social capital of residents and provides opportunity structures for citizen participation. However, the increasing adoption of a corporate management orientation leads to a hollowing out of the cooperative principle of democratic member participation, reducing it to an informal and non-binding substitute. Thus, it is in the responsibility of both managements and residents to revitalise the existing democratic governance structures of cooperative housing before they will be completely dismantled by market liberalization and privatization. In contrast to other European cities, third sector housing in Vienna has the potential to give residents a voice beyond the neighbourhood and the field of housing.

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    File URL: http://www-sre.wu.ac.at/sre-disc/sre-disc-2011_02.pdf
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    Paper provided by Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business in its series SRE-Disc with number sre-disc-2011_02.

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    Length: 50 pages
    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwsre:sre-disc-2011_02
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria
    Web page: http://www.wu-wien.ac.at/mlgd/

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    1. Darinka Czischke, 2009. "Managing Social Rental Housing in the EU: A Comparative Study," European Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 121-151.
    2. Darinka Czischke, 2009. "Managing Social Rental Housing in the EU: A Comparative Study," International Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 121-151.
    3. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2001. "Social Capital and Community Governance," Working Papers 01-01-003, Santa Fe Institute.
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