Yael Arbell

Yael Arbell


Project title

Community-led housing: visions, identities and social relations

Project overview

My research focuses on community-led housing in the UK (and particularly in England). These projects are developed as a grassroots way to cope with the housing crisis, alienation and lack of community spirit, and global climate change. The umbrella term “community-led housing” includes approaches like housing cooperatives, cohousing, community-land trust and self-help housing. These projects promote alternative forms of housing in terms of ethos, relation to state and capital, decision making, ownership and the intention of community living.

I'm interested in the way different communities (in terms of income, class, ethnicity, age, gender, education, political persuasion, geographic location...) use different strategies to act together and to make sense of their realities - how do they articulate key concepts like community, agency and security? What kinds of social relations are formed in these alternative settings and how do identities impact engagement in these?

The research looks at the mechanisms that shape the projects and at the way the members' life story had shaped their vision for alternatives. Taking a critical realist approach, I want to find out “what works” for different kinds of participants - and why.


Research Affiliations


  • University Research Scholarship


  • Arbell, Y. Middlmiss, L. Chatterton, P. (forthcoming). ‘Contested Subjectivities in a UK Housing Cooperative: Old Hippies and Thatcher’s Children negotiating the commons’. Geoforum
  • Arbell, Y. (2016). Procedural Liberalism in the service of Ethnocracy and as a space for resistance: the case of Dahmash. Geography Research Forum (GRF): Special issue: The spatial dimensions of informality: power and law. 36, 2016.

Book review

  • Arbell, Y. (2016). The re-emergence of co-housing in Europe. International Journal of Housing Policy. 13 Sep 2016 (Online)

Conferences presentations

Arbell, Y. 2018. ‘Cohousing and diversity: research findings and personal experiences’. Invited Keynote talk at the Intentional Communities Symposium. Cardiff Metropolitan University, June. 

Arbell, Y. 2018. ‘Beyond Affordabiliy: diversity in cohousing communities’. Inclusive Collaborative Housing Futures, Birmingham University. 

Arbell, Y. 2017. 'English Community-led Housing: Creating Alternatives in Neoliberal Times'. SASE (Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics) Annual Meeting, June 2017, Lyon.

Arbell, Y. 2017. 'Age and engagement in cohousing: how can homogenous groups plan for diversity?'. RGG-IBG Annual International Conference, 29th August-1st September, London.

Arbell, Y. 2017. 'The Community Mural as a Political Space'. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 29th August-1st September, London.

Arbell, Y. 2017.  'Political identities and neoliberal subjectivities in a housing cooperative'. RC21 international conference: Rethinking Global Urban Justice, 11-13th September, Leeds.


  • 2015: MA Activism and Social Change, The School of Geography, The University of Leeds (Distinction)
  • 2005: Democratic Education qualification, Hakibuzzim College, Tel Aviv
  • 2004: BA History, Tel Aviv University (Magna cum Laude)