University of Sussex
Students take over prefiguring urban commons in student housing co-operatives.pdf (1.63 MB)

Students take over: prefiguring urban commons in student housing co-operatives

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-15, 15:16 authored by Anke SchwittayAnke Schwittay

Student housing has become financialized in many countries, resulting in unaffordable and unsuitable accommodations that negatively affect students’ studies and health. Students are beginning to mobilize against these exploitative practices in resistive and future-oriented ways. This article analyses the establishment of student housing co-operatives in the UK as an example of prefigurative student activism, whereby students are actively creating alternative housing provisions that put them in control of the governance and management of their homes. Based on interviews with 27 key participants in the setting up of four student housing co-operatives in the UK, I explore how student co-operators are building actually existing urban housing commons under adverse conditions. Students’ youth and transience necessitates collaborating with secondary organizations, which leads to ambivalent alliances that show students’ persistent agency and political savvy. The challenges of growing the student housing co-operative movement contributes to discussions about the temporal and spatial expansion of the housing commons for future students, surrounding communities and broader housing struggles.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


Housing Studies




Taylor & Francis

Department affiliated with

  • Anthropology Publications


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes