What is it about?
The article examines the role of housing cooperatives for social cohesion in the city by introducing linking social capital which grasps the vertical dimension of social capital. Housing cooperatives represent a crucial intermediate level between residents and urban housing policy, thus providing opportunity structures for bottom-linked citizen participation. Drawing on the case of Vienna, a large-scale household survey and interviews with key informants provide empirical evidence on the importance of a form of social capital which links actors at different levels in the spatial hierarchy: residents, housing managers and political decision-makers. The findings add to our understanding of the opportunities and problems with resident participation in a policy field structured by multi-level governance. Our two-level analysis shows that the dominant model of governance, top-down as well as neoliberal, has structurally limited the room for participatory practices in cooperative housing. Nevertheless, we argue that professional housing cooperatives have a potential to give residents a voice beyond the neighbourhood. Their strong linkages with public decision-makers at different scales can help leverage ideas and resources of residents.
Why is it important?
We introduce a multi-level model of linking social capital and highlight the important role of housing cooperatives as intermediaries which can facilitate resident participation.
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