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Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives

Shared housing

Under the same roof

Exploring the possibilities and limits of different kinds of shared housing

June 2013 to November 2015

About the project

This project is investigating shared living in contemporary Britain. Increased housing costs and recent welfare reforms mean that more and more people will experience some form of communal living throughout their lives.

Some people choose communal living based on a belief that it is more socially, environmentally and financially sustainable, and that it could provide a solution to some of the key challenges facing our society. Other people share housing not through choice but because it is the best, or only, option available to them, for example if they cannot afford the higher costs of living alone.

We are researching both kinds of communal living. We are comparing and contrasting four particular forms of shared housing:

  1. shared households in the private rented or social housing sectors or based on joint ownership
  2. private lodging arrangements
  3. small housing cooperatives and
  4. cohousing projects, which combine private homes with shared facilities.

We are exploring which factors lead to “successful” communal living throughout the lifecourse. We argue that the ability of shared housing to provide a solution to future challenges facing our society rests on the nature of the relationships it produces, so another key aim is to illuminate the practical possibilities and limits of different types of communal living and the policy implications of these.

How we are doing the research

We will are using a facet methodology approach in this project. For each of our four types of communal living, we are focusing on four facets: 

  1. economic
  2. spatial
  3. temporal and
  4. ideological.

We will explore the interactions between these facets to illuminate the sociological possibilities and limits of shared housing. Having reviewed existing knowledge in the field of communal living, we are now involved in the main fieldwork phase of the research. This involves qualitative interviews with people living in each of the four types of shared housing, exploring their housing histories and current living arrangements. We are using a qualitatively-driven mixed-method approach, combining spatial mapping, object inventories, time-use diaries and network mapping.

Project news

To be added to the email newslist for Under the Same Roof, please email morgancentre@manchester.ac.uk (if you are already on the main Morgan Centre email newslist you do not need to sign up for this list - you will already receive news about this project).

Acknowledgements

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Ref: ES/K006177/1.