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Our Seminar Programme

​18th October  2018, 5.00 - 7.00  Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llandaff Campus – Kirsten Stevens-Wood  Room O2.56

Desperately Seeking Utopia: the use of Prefigurative language by communards seeking others to create intentional communities

The process of setting up a new intentional community is a long and complex one.  Many start with an idea or a vision of what ‘could be’ and use this to bring in likeminded others.   These visions of the future are often extremely vivid and descriptive, sometimes going as far as to describe a yet to be achieved lifestyle or setting.  When groups come together, they begin to enact the future through the form and function of the group, in both language and actions.  Using the three main databases for people seeking to start up new communities, this paper explores the way groups and individuals use prefiguration to create visions of the future and engage in utopian discourses

 Desperately Seeking Utopia.pptx


9th November 2017, 5.00 - 7.00  Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llandaff Campus - Cath Boswell  Room O2.56

Ageing in an intentional Community:
An exploration of the phenomenon of the growth in intentional communities set up specifically for older people.  How do these differ from other multi-generational communities?, what might they have to offer mainstream planning in an ageing society?


7th September 2016, 5.00 - 7.00 Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llandaff Campus - Kirsten Stevens-Wood Room O2.31

Do intentional communities have a role to play in our housing future?
Intentional communities have a long and venerable history, appearing in a range of sizes and structures from fluid hippy communes through to the much more formal model of co-housing.  In all of their different incarnations it can be argued that there is an element of utopian influence (Sargisson 2005) and alternative radicalism where groups of people are taking their housing literally into their own hands.  Many intentional communities are ground breakers - testing what is possible at the edges of society, and their reason for existence can often be seen as a reaction to the changing nature of society. The form that they may take can be seen a direct response to the concerns of the time (Abrams 1976; Halfacree, 2006)
Intentional communities have the potential to provide opportunities where mainstream housing cannot or will not. Cohousing and mutual shared home ownership models have been popular models for contemporary intentional communities and enable individuals to engage in the creation and ownership of new participatory models of co-operative dwellings. However, the limited research suggests that intentional communities are often formed by individuals and groups with access to money and social capital (Abrams 1976), so although not a new phenomenon, perhaps not one that is currently available to the masses.  This paper asks is it possible to create intentional communities as a viable mainstream alternative? We consider the evidence available and suggest that intentional communities in the UK are unlikely to move beyond a privileged niche market without substantial political and economic support.

 Housing Futures Presentation.pptx


6th April 2016, 5.00 - 7.00.  Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llandaff Campus – Liz Hayes:

Exit and Voice: Hirschman’s model revisited as applied to Intentional Communities
Intentional Communities are ‘utopian’ and are often formed out of a dissatisfaction with mainstream society AND a desire to live in a better way.   They are embedded in the time and place that they want to change  however, some of the issues around which communities form are remarkably consistent over time for example a rejection of the mainstream and a return to social models of living.  Such communities allow us a view of wider society, from the perspective of people who are simultaneously not part of it and intimately engaged with it.
Utilising Hirschman’s Exit and Voice model this paper explores the way in which “…language constitutes or produces the concepts or categories we use to make sense of the world” (Hastings, 1999, p10) and discourse contributes to the creation of frames which provide the structure that shapes the way we perceive aspects of the world (Bloor and Bloor, 2007)
Findings suggest that Social activism is central to many intentional communities, though not to all and that social activism has different meanings to different communities – anti-capitalism, anti-consumerism, environmentalism and ‘modelling’ a better way of life.

 Exit Voice revisited.pptx


3rd February 2016, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llandaff Campus – Kirsten Stevens-Wood:

Reality Bites: A discourse analysis of the differences between forming and established intentional communities.
The aim of this project is to compare the language and imagery used by people wanting to form an Intentional Community with the language and imagery used by people from established groups.   
Communities often begin with individuals coming together to imagine a better life.  Describing and representing the better life is achieved through the use of language, and the language used may influence both the vision and the reality of that life.
Data has been drawn from the ’public areas’ of three of the most popular intentional community websites hosting both forming and existing groups, and from the websites of the groups themselves. The research found that there do appear to be differences between newly forming groups and established communities in a number of important areas.  We tentatively suggest that the way in which the community is ‘imagined’ before it is created may have an impact on its final form.

Reality Bites.pptx