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Innovating Democratic Participation in Social Housing

Elizabeth Toft Kristjansen (Roskilde University, Denmark)
Jesper Ole Jensen (Aalborg University, Denmark)

Public Governance in Denmark

ISBN: 978-1-80043-713-5, eISBN: 978-1-80043-712-8

Publication date: 23 February 2022


This chapter examines how democratic innovations can strengthen participation in the social housing sector. In Denmark, social housing offers affordable housing to a large number of Danes. The sector is grounded in traditions for resident involvement and engagement, and the democratic model in the sector is unique to Denmark. The residents have the majority say in all decision-making boards, which enables them to influence both the physical surroundings and social initiatives. Despite the positive merits, the sector faces challenges concerning increased segregation, municipalities allocating an increased share of socially and economically marginalised people to the sector, and less participation in the residential democracy. This chapter studies two cases of initiatives that experiment with democratic innovations to enhance participation in local housing associations. The two cases are innovative initiatives in the social housing sector and illustrate the potential benefits of increased participation. The chapter concludes that project-based initiatives might be on the rise and seem to hold considerable potential for enhancing participation. The challenge, then, is still to secure the coordination and strategic direction of the initiatives while combining them with the formal resident democracy.




Thanks to the two reviewers, the editors and colleagues from the research group ‘Transformation of Housing and Places’ at BUILD, AAU for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.


Kristjansen, E.T. and Jensen, J.O. (2022), "Innovating Democratic Participation in Social Housing", Krogh, A.H., Agger, A. and Triantafillou, P. (Ed.) Public Governance in Denmark, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 57-73.



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