Work, Community and Sustainability. Redefining Work through Cohousing

Master's Thesis, 2013

58 Pages



1 Introduction
1.1 The Prevalent Notion of Work and its Exclusion of Unpaid Activities
1.2 Research Questions and Aims
1.3 Content and Structure

2 Methodology
2.1 Sustainability Science, Ontology and Epistemology
2.2 Qualitative Approach
2.3 Case Study Research
2.4 Methods
2.4.1 Expert Interviews
2.4.2 Participant Observation
2.4.3 Focus Group Interviews
2.5 Personal Reflections of the Research

3 Reconceptualising Work: The Concept of Mixed Work
3.1 Four Segments of Work
3.2 Achieving a Holistic View on Work as an Individual

4 Development of Cohousing and Today’s Definitions
4.1 The First Cohousing Generation
4.2 The Second Generation - Cohousing as an Intermediary Level
4.3 Cohousing Today
4.3.1 Cohousing’s Characteristics and Variations
4.3.2 Meanings of co in Cohousing

5 The Cases
5.1 Cohousing in Austria
5.1.1 The Cohouse Lebensraum
5.2 Cohousing in Sweden
5.2.1 The Cohouse Fiolen
5.3 Differences and Similarities of the Cohouses

6 Cohousing’s Comunity Work and its Contribution to Redefining Work
6.1 The Definition of Work Matters
6.2 Categorisation of Work in a Cohouse
6.3 Organisation of Community Work and its Required Time
6.4 Distribution of Work between Women and Men
6.5 Appreciation of Community Work
6.6 Visibility of Community Work
6.7 Benefits and Challenges of Community Work
6.7.1 Facilitation of Family Work
6.7.2 Financial Savings
6.7.3 Strengthening the Group

7 Conclusion
7.1 Summarising Statements and Potentials of Mixed Work in Cohousing for Sustainability
7.2 Suggesting Future Research
7.3 Concluding Remarks


Guiding Themes and Questions for the Focus Group Interviews

List of Figures

1 The Four Segments of Mixed Work

2 The Individual’s Contribution to Mixed Work

3 Lebensraum’s Courtyard

4 Lebenraum’s Floor Plan

5 Fiolen’s Dining Room

6 Fiolen’s Floor Plan

7 Location of the Cohouses

8 Fiolen’s Cooking Plan

List of Tables

1 Socio-economic Data of the Participants

2 Renaming the Segments of Mixed Work

1 Introduction

1.1 The Prevalent Notion of Work and its Exclusion of Unpaid Activities

The majority of people organise their daily life around the construct of “normal work” (Hilde- brandt 2003, 384) that centres paid work and leaves aside other activities although they are crucial for the economy and society (Biesecker 2000, 5). Paid work has become central to society due to technical and social shifts in the early modern era and industrialisation (Hilde- brandt 2007). The public sector became seen as the only economically productive industrial labour site (Taylor 2004, 31). For instance for Marx, production is every activity that is goal-oriented and satisfies human needs whereby he referred to only paid work as only paid work is exchanged on the market and gives surplus value (Bryson 2005, 128-129). Thus, the private domestic sphere became considered for non-economic reproduction activities which are not considered valuable (ibid., 129). It was men who worked for the industry and women responsible for the private domestic sphere, thus the definition of work has become exclusive, gendered and spatially separated (Craig 2012, 456).

Still today, more than 200 years later, this perception of work prevails. Most politicians and researcher have been using the term work synonymously with paid work (Taylor 2004, 31) and define unpaid activities as “non-productive” or in the best case “reproductive” (Biesecker and v. Winterfeld 2010, 4). Unpaid activities are labelled valueless, unappreciated and as unquestioned preconditions for the existence of the market (Biesecker 2000, 2). Furthermore, these activities rarely occur in the societal debate about work (Brandl 2002, 20) even though every person spends on average an equal amount of hours in paid and unpaid work activities (Craig 2012, 458). However, men spend more minutes per day in paid work (OECD 2011, 136) and thus what society calls “normal work” is often mainly a male normality (Hildebrandt 2003, 384). Despite initiatives for gender-equality (Majstorovic and Lassen 2011, 2), women in Europe spend on average 2,5 hours more per day time in unpaid work than men1, whereby the biggest gap is in taking care of children (OECD 2011, 137). This leads to a double burden because women are, in addition to being the main person in charge for care work, also expected to work full-time (Littig and Spitzer 2011, 67-68), although being socially and economically disadvantaged (Barcelona Provincial Council 2006, 148).

Focusing on paid work does not only bring about social unsustainability like gender-inequalities and an increase in life-style diseases (e.g. depression and burn-out because of performance pressure and long working hours) (Nierling 2013, 11), but it also leads to environmental un- sustainability. The construct of “normal work” is coupled with an economic model that is ori- ented towards maximisation of income to satisfy the basic needs through a resource-intense consumption (Brandl 2008, 112) which contributes to environmental destruction (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 1). Goods and services in turn determine the societal status (Biesecker 2000, 3), thus also linking societal participation to paid work (Hildebrandt 2003, 385). Hence, centering paid work results in a dependence on the market and the state which in turn low- ers individual social security. Although unpaid activities would help to guarantee basic care also in economic crises (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 14), the prevailing response to eco- nomic instability and its resulting high unemployment is not in promoting and highlighting the importance of other forms of work. The solution is seen in economic growth, reduction of working costs and an extension of working hours (Littig and Spitzer 2011, 71) leading to fur- ther social and environmental unsustainability although it has become obvious long time ago that nature may not be able to sustain further economic growth (see Meadows et al. 1992).

1.2 Research Questions and Aims

Various propositions, especially from a feminist perspective, have been made to overcome the centrality of paid work and reach a holistic understanding of work by visualising all forms of work (see Nierling 2013, 28-36; Taylor 2004, 34). Simultaneously, there have been beliefs since the 19th century that the built environment can support various forms of work in our daily lives (see Hayden 1982). Today’s researcher and practitioners argue that infrastructural prerequisites like intermediary spaces (Nierling 2010b, 4) - laying inbetween the private household and the large society - and forms of shared housing (Biesecker 2000, 12) have to be created to achieve a redefinition of work. Cohousing, a form of shared housing which combines individual housing with community by sharing spaces and facilities and working together, provides such an intermediary level.

Hence, set in the context of the two cohouses Fiolen in Sweden and Lebensraum in Austria, the main research question and its sub-research question are:

How does cohousing contribute to a redefinition of work?

(1) How do cohousing residents understand the term work? What forms of work do they see?
(2) How do cohousing residents organise community work?
(3) What are the benefits and challenges of community work?
(4) Is community work appreciated? How?
(5) Is community work distributed fairly between women and men? What enables this?

The study aims to reinforce the discussion of redefining work within Sustainability Science. By giving a practical approach to a theoretical discourse on the redefinition of work, the findings contribute to an understanding of work and support the further development of co- housing. The outreach and impact of my thesis is broadened by the cooperation with the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development with which I partly developed the topic and theoretical perspective of the thesis2.

1.3 Content and Structure

The thesis continues with methodological considerations in Section 2. Subsequently, it un- folds its theoretical framework for a redefinition of work in Section 3. I discuss a reconcep- tualisation of work towards sustainability by using the analytical concept of Mixed Work to exemplify what an extended view on work could look like and how individuals can contribute. Section 4 gives first a brief historical review of cohousing because this thesis builds on the fact that cohousing derived amongst others as a response to the prevailing unsustainable view on work. It also describes briefly the development of the intermediary level, which acts as basis for cooperation between the cohousing households, and introduces today’s cohousing. Section 5 describes cohousing in Austria and Sweden as well as introduces the cases Lebens- raum and Fiolen. Subsequently the study’s findings are presented and discussed (Section 6). I analyse if and how a holistic view on work is practically achieved in the cohouses compared to how it could theoretically be achieved as an individual on the basis of the concept of Mixed work. Section 7 sums up the most important findings by discussing cohousing’s potentials to contribute to sustainability when it comes to an extended view on work and gives suggestions for further research.

2 Methodology

2.1 Sustainability Science, Ontology and Epistemology

My research process is guided by Sustainability Science which is inter- and transdisciplinary dealing with persistent complex problems, oriented towards solutions and aiming to achieve change (see Lang et al. 2012; Ja¨ger 2009). I apply an interdisciplinary approach because the study’s bases are drawn from various disciplines, among others sociology, built environ- ment, gender and feminist studies. Further, the study has transdisciplinary elements since the knowledge created is descriptive, normative and practice-oriented contributing to solving “life-world problems” (Pohl and Hirsch 2008, 112). Furthermore, the topic for the thesis is partly based on the ideas of the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development which saw the practical and scientific need for research on cohousing and its organisation of work. For example, according to Vestbro and Horelli (2012, 331), it has not yet been investigated to what extent cohousing reduces or enables a fair distribution of housework between women and men. I consider redefining work as a complex problem as it ranges from an economic, political, societal to an individual level. Dealing with redefining something is inherently change-oriented and since this thesis exemplifies what a redefinition could look like from an individual level it becomes solution-oriented.

Being oriented towards change, I take a critical realist standpoint on my ontological and epistemological considerations. Critical realism identifies the status quo and the requirements to achieve a changed status (Bryman 2008, 15). Being a critical realist, I accept a complex reality and the existence of a real world independent of our experiences but at the same time acknowledge constructivism and science’s social embedding and imperfect nature (Clark 2008, 168). I consider gender-inequalities and women’s subordination to men as a social and cultural construct (see Rosaldo 1974), therefore I am also influenced by a feminist point of view which also focuses on achieving social change (Jones and Budig 2008, 371).

2.2 Qualitative Approach

I selected a qualitative approach because it allows me to better understand and see through the eyes of the study participants (Bryman 2008, 398) as well as enables individual inter- pretations (Denzin and Lincoln 2000, 3). Through qualitative research I am positioned in a real-world context by being in direct contact with the study participants (ibid.), which might provoke the participants to reflect on the topic.

2.3 Case Study Research

The thesis’ research strategy takes the form of a multiple-case study as it is best suited to describing and explaining presumed linkages within a real-life context (Yin 2009, 19-20). The multiple-case design allows “cross-case” conclusions and a replication of the results (ibid., 53-57). The cases are the cohouses Lebensraum in Ga¨nserndorf, Austria and Fiolen in Lund, Sweden. These cohouses were chosen on the basis of an information-oriented case selection which means that I expected them to have a high information content (Flyvbjerg 2006, 230). Furthermore, I selected the cohouses because they resemble one another in their structure and organisation which enabled me to draw conclusions from both houses and at the same time gives the cohouses the possibility to learn from each other. I do not aim to compare the cohouses but rather explain the reasons for their differences. The unit of analysis is community work in the cohouses. The choice of countries was based on practical reasons of being familiar with both countries and because they differ in its cohousing development, public and political awareness and support. Therefore, the thesis gives an additional bonus of learning from two different countries.

2.4 Methods

In addition to secondary sources, I used primary sources derived from the focus group inter- views, supported by observations and supplemented by interviews of cohousing experts.

2.4.1 Expert Interviews

To begin with, in order to familiarise with the cohousing setting, and understand the cohous- ing development in Austria and Sweden, I conducted four unstructured interviews (Bryman 2008, 438) with cohousing experts in Sweden and Austria. I used unstructured interviewing because the aim was rather a loose conversation and the focus was different in each interview.

I met Dick Urban Vestbro in Stockholm on February 04, 2013 to talk about Sweden’s co- housing history, status quo and future development. Dick, who lives in a cohouse in Stock- holm, is not only the chairman of the Swedish association Kollektivhus NU (see Subsec- tion 5.2) but is also, as an architect and professor emeritus at the Royal Institute of Technol- ogy in Stockholm, involved in research on cohousing since the 1960s.

In order to get first hand information about the importance and development of the interme- diary level and cohousing, I interviewed Kerstin Ka¨rnekull and Gunilla Lundahl in Stock- holm on February 05, 2013. Kerstin is an architect who lives in the cohouse Fa¨rdkna¨ppen. Gunilla, a journalist and former chief editor, lived in a first generation cohouse until the 1970s. Both formed and were active in the BiG research network (see Subsection 4.2). The interview with these two women was recorded and transcribed.

To understand Austria’s current cohousing development, I met Ernst Gruber in Vienna on February 22, 2013. Ernst, an architect, is the chairman of the Initiative fu¨r gemeinschaftliches Bauen und Wohnen (see Subsection 5.1) and has valuable knowledge about Vienna’s cohous- ing scene.

2.4.2 Participant Observation

I wanted to understand the organisation of community work in order to make the focus group interviews more efficient. Thus, I participated in three common dinners and experienced cooking for 27 cohousing residents in Fiolen whilst talking informally to residents and taking notes. The participant observation enabled me to familiarise myself with the setting which cannot be merely reached by studying literature (Kvale 2007, 8).

2.4.3 Focus Group Interviews

In a focus group, qualitative data is collected from homogeneous participants in a group discussion setting through their interaction (Kru¨ger and Casey 2009, 15) stimulated by a facilitator. The aim of the two focus group interviews was to bring forth a broad spectrum of also spontaneous and emotional points of views (Kvale 2007, 7). I conducted the first focus group interview with seven cohousing residents of the cohouse Lebensraum, Ga¨nserndorf in Austria on February 23, 2013 and the second with five cohousing residents of the cohouse Fiolen, Lund in Sweden on March 09, 2013. Since two Fiolen residents did not have time for the focus group interview, I interviewed them individually on March 09, 2013 as I believe that everyone’s views are valuable. Although this was a different setting, I tried to ask them the same questions as in the focus group interviews and thus consider their responses in the analysis equally to the focus group interviews. The participants of each group joined because of their own interest and time. In both cohouses all residents were invited by e-mail. In Fiolen, I also hung up a note on the blackboard. I also personally invited the residents I talked to at the dinners I participated in.

A survey on socio-demographic data (see Table 1) revealed that while in Lebensraum the number of men dominated, it was the opposite in Fiolen. In both case studies, the age dis- tribution was quite broad, all were of working age. Interestingly, in Fiolen most worked full-time, those who did not were self-employed, half were on parental leave and studying. In contrast, in Lebensraum one participant was unemployed, one employed full-time, one freelancer and the rest worked half time.

Table 1: Socio-economic data of the participants.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The focus group interviews were structured by guiding questions (Kru¨ger and Casey 2009, 38). Although I tried to be flexible and open to where the discussion led, I needed a structure to be able to compare the cases (Bryman 2008, 440). I developed the questions on the basis of the concept of Mixed Work: I wanted to be able to compare the residents’ understandings and definitions of work with those developed by the concept of Mixed Work; I asked about benefits and disadvantages of community work to better understand it and to draw conclu- sions about opportunities and obstacles when it comes to redefining work; I interviewed the residents about appreciation and distribution of community work between women and men which is a crucial factor when it comes to achieving Mixed Work. To better ensure validity and reliability (Kru¨ger and Casey 2009, 202), I received feedback from my supervisors and the Austrian Institute of Sustainable Development, and I pilot-tested some of the questions. As more than a week passed in between the two interviews, I had time to improve the struc- ture. Furthermore, all interviews were recorded and transcribed. Since I want to keep the interviewees’ identities anonymous, I do not use their real names in the text.

For the analysis, I used the replication approach to a multiple-case study as illustrated in Yin (2009, 56-58). After selecting the cases and conducting the study, I first looked at each case individually and afterwards drew cross-case conclusions. While doing so I followed a qualitative data analysis by developing themes, codes, and categories to structure the data (based on Bryman 2008, 550). Hence, I used abductive reasoning, the procedure of bringing data together with ideas (Richardson and Kramer 2006, 500), by using the best available information (Lipscomb 2012, 251) to analyse the data.

2.5 Personal Reflections of the Research

The focus group interview of the cohouse Lebensraum was conducted in German, whereas the analysis in English3. This could compromise the validity of the study as the translations are based on my personal understanding. The interviews with the cohouse Fiolen were con- ducted in English, leading to the limitation that only people who are confident in English had joined the discussion which could be a selection bias and lower the reliability. Accord- ing to one interviewee, more residents would have joined if it had been held in their native language. Also, the understanding of the term work is influenced by culture and language. For instance, according to one participant, the term homework which does not include work in its Swedish translation [ hemla¨xa ]. The number of participants (7 in each house) might be rather small considering that there are 35 adults in Fiolen and 46 in Lebensraum. Nonethe- less, the participants represented the variety of household compilation, the educational status (see Table 1) and both focus group interviews together represent an equal amount of women and men. Furthermore, the questions relating the distribution of community work between women and men might be influenced to a small degree by the fact that both female and male residents took part in the discussion. To investigate women’s or men’s points of view, women and men should be interviewed separately (Kru¨ger and Casey 2009, 116). Lastly, myself as a researcher potentially influenced the study as I am in favour of the concept of cohousing and thus might tend to be biased. I dealt with cohousing and the subject of redefining work for the first time although my background is not in architecture, sociology or gender studies. But as a Sustainability Scientist, I believe I have the ability to better see the “big picture”, draw from and bring together various disciplines as well as constantly search for solutions for social change.

3 Reconceptualising Work: The Concept of Mixed Work

Various propositions have been made in the last few decades concerning how to overcome the centrality of paid work and reach a holistic understanding of work (see Nierling 2013, 28-36). Especially feminist research demanded that housework has to be upgraded, i.e. appreciated and included in the concept of work, and redistributed (Lutz 2007, 178; Taylor 2004, 34). Biesecker (2000), also from a feminist perspective who demands a “plurality of work”, was one of the first to include aspect of externalising economic activities from the environment and the society to the debate. Brandl and Hildebrandt (2001), based on preceding proposi- tions of redefining work, developed the concept of Mixed Work (original Mischarbeit) which is considered as one of the few attempts from a sustainability perspective and therefore gives the theoretical framework for this study.

3.1 Four Segments of Work

Mixed Work describes four segments of work (see Figure 1), referring to the individual from a daily and biographical perspective. It indicates various forms of work that can occur at the same time, different individual combinations, and the alteration of these combinations because of biographical changes. (Hildebrandt 2003, 390)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: The four segments of Mixed Work based on Brandl and Hildebrandt (2001, 13).

Paid Work [Erwerbsarbeit] is the production of goods and services for the market in order to earn income (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 12). Thus, the organisational principle is income generation (Hildebrandt 2003, 390). Care work [Versorgungsarbeit] refers to care-taking activities i.e. the care of sick family members, elderly care and child care as well as taking care of the household, thus housework is subsumed into care work. Its organisational princi- ple is caring (ibid.). Individual work [Eigenarbeit] is self-determined and benefit-oriented work (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 12) in which goods to care of one’s own are produced (Biesecker 2000, 7). Thus, the organisational principle is subsistence (Hildebrandt 2003, 390) but also autonomy (Biesecker 2000, 7). In community work [Gemeinschaftsarbeit], com- mon goods and services are produced for others without payment (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 12). Its organisational principle is self-help and solidarity (Hildebrandt 2003, 390). Of- ten, voluntary work is used synonymous to community work (see for example Williams and Nadin 2012, 2). I decided to translate the German term Gemeinschaftarbeit with community work although that might not fully reflect what it stands for. Whereas Gemeinschaft refers to social interaction, common beliefs and following a common goal (Duden 2013), community adds a common geographical location between the participants (Oxford English Dictionary 2013). However, Gemeinschaftarbeit is not necessarily about voluntary work for the own so- cial network or community group, but includes any voluntary work that in the broadest sense benefits the society.

However, it is difficult to exactly define unpaid work (Craig 2012, 458), not only because borders between the segments of unpaid work are blurry but also because the border to leisure and recreational activities are hard to define. Mixed Work is based on the definition of work as developed by Kambartel (1994, 126) who defines societal work as an “activity dedicated to others, which takes part in the societal exchange of goods and services at a general level” (in Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 12). Thus, the reference to the social benefit of work for others is crucial i.e. the motivation for an activity are shared goals and not only the own person (like for leisure activities) (Nierling 2013, 28). However, this would excludes individual work. Also, recreation or idleness can be part of paid work or contribute to all forms of work. Work for others can at the same time be recreation (e.g. gardening). Therefore, I would like to revise Kambartel’s definition by adding Schmid’s (2006, 32) understanding: “work as everything that a human performs with regard to him and his life to be able to live a good life (in Kopatz 2012, 27). Another difficulty is the mutual dependency of unpaid and paid work. Unpaid work makes paid work possible but also vice-versa, market activities are the prerequisite for unpaid care work (Notz 2003, 425). Furthermore, some unpaid activities can be, and already are, to a certain degree substituted by the market or the state, making paid and unpaid work interchangeable (Wolf 2004, 9).

3.2 Achieving a Holistic View on Work as an Individual

Mixed Work, including the propositions for a plurality of work by Biesecker (2000) on which Mixed Work is based (Brandl 2008, 116), provided the theoretical framework for my analy- sis. Primarily, I examined if a holistic view on work is practically achieved in the cohouse and related this to how it could be theoretically achieved as an individual (see Figure 2). First of all, individuals can contribute by being aware and understanding all forms of work. “Only a change of awareness towards unpaid working activities would allow a reconfigura- tion of working activities on daily or biographical basis.” (Nierling 2010a, 4) Also, they can contribute by creating links between the different forms of work. First, an intrapersonal link means that everyone should be enabled to take part in all forms of work (Biesecker 2000, 14). This should be based on individual combinations because how Mixed Work is organised is dependent on the individual, according to age, stages of life or personal preferences (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 12). It can be achieved through reducing paid work hours or flexible work models (Biesecker 2000, 11,14). However, Brandl (2008, 118) emphasises that paid work still has to be the central segment of work and cannot be replaced by other segments. The reason for this is because in addition to providing individual income security, paid work has a psycho-social function, it is the basis for welfare state amenities and the prerequisite for societal integration (Littig and Spitzer 2011, 68-69). Second, an interpersonal link can be achieved by redistributing all segments of work equally between women and men, for in- stance, with more men in care and more women in paid work (Biesecker 2000, 14). Third, an intersectorial link refers to a link between production and reproduction (ibid., 14) e.g. doing paid work from home.

Furthermore, appreciation / recognition4 of unpaid work is considered one of the key factors to allow a plurality of work. All segments of work have to be appreciated as equally im- portant, useful and valuable to society (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 5; Biesecker 2000, 7,13). According to the theoretical approach on recognition by Honneth (1994), recognition can be classified into an institutional, performance-related and personal dimension. The first two dimensions take place in the public sphere, whereas personal recognition takes place in the private sphere through personal relationships and love (Nierling 2012, 243). The first dimension refers to institutionalised recognition in human rights or through “specific laws for different social groups” (ibid., 242). In the second dimension, recognition comes from individual performance and achievements which contribute to societal goals and is visualised by rights, the distribution of resources like payment, and by appreciating individual skills and competences (ibid., 242-243). Whereas paid work receives institutional recognition e.g. through laws for workers in employment and performance-related recognition e.g. through payment, societal positions or status, unpaid work’s recognition is more fragile (Nierling 2010b, 4). It does not have equal and full treatment in law and depends on informal qualities, which are difficult to measure, and interpersonal recognition becomes more relevant (ibid.)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: The individual’s contribution to Mixed Work.

Individuals and household play a crucial role in the reconceputalisation of work because individuals make up society and contribute to a value and socio-cultural change which is needed to achieve a holistic view (Brandl and Hildebrandt 2001, 10). However, it has to be acknowledged that a new understanding of work is not only the result of individual choices (Taylor 2004, 43). Individuals have to be supported by a public discussion of new paradigms of work (Nierling 2012, 242), new valuations and new criteria of the “good life” have to be communicated combined with structural and financial incentives (Biesecker 2000, 15-16).

4 Development of Cohousing and Today’s Definitions

4.1 The First Cohousing Generation

Several feminists in Europe and the U.S.A. in the beginning of the 19th century saw the importance of the built environment in order to overcome the undervaluation of reproductive activities, the dual view on household and public space as well as women being oppressed and isolated (Bryson 2005, 131; Hayden 1982, 39). They realised that a spatial transformation of the domestic workplace as well as a more collective organisation is necessary (ibid., 10,12). For instance Robert Owen and Charles Fourier, both communitarian socialists, established programmes to reorganise communities to combat capitalist consequences such as women’s isolation and oppression at home (ibid., 6). Feminist Marie Stevens Howland’s kitchenless houses and apartment hotels (ibid., 91) were implemented in the first half of the 20th century in Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki (Horelli and Vepsa¨ 1994, 209). The idea of the first generation was to have as little housework for the individual as possible by outsourcing parts of it and introducing common facilities, but not to create community (Altus 1995, 56). Men’s role and share of housework was not questioned because women considered the house as their sphere and “accepted the conclusion that men were unwilling to become involved” (ibid., 58).

4.2 The Second Generation - Cohousing as an Intermediary Level

On the basis of this first generation of cohousing, the feminist movement from the 1960s developed the second generation by changing the focus from outsourcing housework to col- laborating (Horelli and Vepsa¨ 1994, 210).


1 This includes Austria where women spend about 1,5 hours more and Sweden where women spend about an hour more in unpaid work (OECD nd).

2 The institute’s related research project “Sustainable Living and Working in a Cohousing Project: a Comparative, Practice Theory-Oriented Analysis” is a study about practices of unpaid work in an Aus- trian cohousing project before and after the move-in supported by funds of the O¨ sterreichische Nationalbank ( The results will be published in 2015.

3 Also the direct used citations are translations to English.

4 Simplified, I use the terms appreciation and recognition interchangeably (see also Oxford English Dictio- nary 2013) because the German term Anerkennung used in the concept of Mixed Work, is translated both with appreciation and recognition.

Excerpt out of 58 pages


Work, Community and Sustainability. Redefining Work through Cohousing
Lund University  (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1177 KB
In cooperation with the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development. Supervised (Urban Studies, Malmö University) and (Lunds University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Sustainability, Redefining Work, Cohousing, Sustainability Science, Mixed Work, Mischarbeit, Community Work, Gemeinschaftsarbeit, Community
Quote paper
Teresa Rauscher (Author), 2013, Work, Community and Sustainability. Redefining Work through Cohousing, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Work, Community and Sustainability. Redefining Work through Cohousing

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free