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“Not alone and not in a home!”: The negotiation of later life as a cohousing group in Berlin

Hudson, Jim; (2019) “Not alone and not in a home!”: The negotiation of later life as a cohousing group in Berlin. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis explores the lived experience of the phenomenon of senior cohousing: a form of intentional, mutually supportive, community where groups of older people live in their own separate homes; have a formalised set of rules for living together; and share some common facilities. Central to the concept is that such communities are an alternative to social isolation, but also represents older people retaining control in later life. By using an ethnographic approach, spending several months primarily with one established group in the city of Berlin, I was able to better understand whether the original aims of such groups are achieved, and how they evolve and adapt in reality over many years together. // My findings are framed primarily through a consideration of the ageing process and identity; I argue that while the model is a practical response to the vicissitudes of ageing and later life, it also represents a rejection of stereotypes of ‘old age’ and an embracing of a new phase or ‘third age’ of life. For the group described in this study (‘LAiC’, or ‘Living Alone in Community’), the enacted shared identity has faded in recent years, with members shifting their focus from the group to other, more individual concerns. I question whether this change from a ‘third age’ group identity to roles we might associate with more ‘traditional’ ageing such as grandparenting, is due to the breakdown of the group or changing priorities as they age. // LAiC provides a social structure in living together that, while not being the close-knit community some had originally hoped for, has offered much that is of value to its members, as a mutually supportive ‘framework’ more than a group of friends or family. A question mark remains however over how the group’s ongoing loss of impetus might now play out, in sustaining the group into the future.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: “Not alone and not in a home!”: The negotiation of later life as a cohousing group in Berlin
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082372
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