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Together, We Can Everything: The Social Outcomes of Cohousing Communities in Denmark

Name: Alice Markey
Major: Environmental Studies
Minor: Sociology
Advisor: Matt Mariola; Heather Fitz Gibbon (Second Reader)

Cohousing is an intentional living community that prioritizes a high level of social cohesion via design of the physical environment, attitudes towards community building, and the self-governing organizational structure. I analyzed and presented the idea that the social outcomes of cohousing are a result of residents aligning on investments (time, money, emotional labor) and values (of organization, decision making, and participation). I interviewed 20 residents of 8 different cohousing communities in the suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark. Cooperative institutions have existed in Demark for hundreds of years, with the first cooperative dairy forming in 1882. Needing greater power in the dairy market motivated individual farmers to form a cooperative. Their success inspired cooperative movements in many other sectors, including insurance, agriculture, and banking. This laid the cultural and organizational groundwork cooperative living, which was suggested by journalist Bodil Graae in a 1967 article titled “Children Should Have One Hundred Parents.” Her thesis was that neighborhoods should be designed for children to be safe and have full lives, raised by all the adults around them. Many families around Denmark agreed and formed groups which eventually become the founders of the first cohousing communities, established in 1972 and 1973. From there cohousing in Denmark boomed. This holistic research perspective could inspire studies on children in cohousing, the aging population of the original generation of cohousing residents, and longitudinal studies of residents over their entire time living in cohousing. My project provides examples and hope for a future where intentional community is the default, which excites me about the possibility for more people to have the experiences my interviewees do in cohousin.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 12, 2023.


3 responses to “Together, We Can Everything: The Social Outcomes of Cohousing Communities in Denmark”

  1. Mark Graham says:

    Hi Alice – This is such an interesting project — thank you for doing the work and sharing it here! I am interested to read the entire IS, if that’s possible.

  2. Mary Neagoy says:

    Congratulations on a brilliant presentation today, Alice! Your talk was a testament to all the hard work you put in to your IS and to how well you understand your topic and your audience. May the impacts of Copenhagen and Wooster continue to be felt in your life. We are very proud of you.

  3. Alice Markey says:

    Thank you so much Dr. Graham! I’ll send the whole thing to you!

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