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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Do democratic structures lead to resident engagement? The case of non-profit housing in Denmark


TAI 2018 will be about how all of us, the whole of the housing team, are the motivators of positive progress. But how do we ensure we live up to the ‘all’ in all of us? We asked Anne Vorre Hansen, Roskilde University, to tell us about resident engagement in Denmark.

TAI 2018 - Anne Vorre Hansen, Roskilde University - Do democratic structures lead to resident engagment? The case of non-profit housing in DenmarkIn Denmark, non-profit housing is not only for the socially marginalized, but is referred to as “housing for all” since the non-profit housing sector comprises approximately 540,000 dwellings, i.e. roughly 20 per cent of the Danish housing stock. The Danish model is based on a strong tradition for resident democracy, which is considered to be quite exceptional from an international perspective. This is due to the extent of the tenants’ opportunities to make decisions about the housing area in which they live, as well as financial decisions about the departments.

But what does this democratic setup entail in regards to the roles of residents and housing associations, the delivery of housing services and future development?

Research from the Danish non-profit housing sector reveals that the sector is squeezed between different logics; a logic of marketization, a logic of public welfare and the logic of civil society. And furthermore that this position in between logics frames the collaboration and relation between residents and housing associations - with the consequence that even though the formal democratic structures are strong, democracy is not necessarily present as a life form.

Thus, despite the sectorial meta-story of resident democracy as key, the residents experience a democratic fatigue since they partially believe resident democracy to be a sort of pseudo democracy. Still, residents are concerned with the place they live as a foundation for creating a good life. Therefore it becomes relevant to discuss what is actually meant by democracy and to explore if it is possible to create platforms for democratic engagement based on participation - and not solely on an aggregative perception of democracy.

At TAI 2018 I will dig into these aspects. And moreover try to outline how the Danish case of non-profit housing can be seen as an inspirational example of resident democracy - for good or bad - when developing democratic structures for non-profit housing prospectively.

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Anne Vorre Hansen, (M.Sc., PhD) is Postdoc at Roskilde University, Denmark, and a senior consultant. Anne is an anthropologist and holds a PhD in Business Administration/Service Innovation. She has 12 years of experience as a consultant of innovation, business development and strategy in the private and public sectors, and as a researcher and project manager of service innovation. In her current research, she focuses on innovation and value co-creation in service, in the private, public and third sectors.

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