Institutions and Social Change: implementing co-operative housing and environmentally sustainable development at Christie Walk

Susan McClean
Jenny Onyx


How can institutions contribute to the building of civil society in the twenty- first century? It is clear that the old laissez-faire approach and the more recent neo-conservative reliance on the market have failed to deliver housing for many people. On the other hand the state-based welfare housing model espoused by the Australian Labor Party over the twentieth century has also been beset by problems. Social alienation, and the crisis in affordable housing make the case that individualist approaches to urban living are not working. More communal solutions are needed - solutions attuned to a complex view of civil society outlined by Michael Edwards' tripartite definition. At the same time the onset of global warming now prompts Australians to create more environmentally sustainable ways of living. Addressing the theme of responsibility, this paper focuses on citizenship in its broader environmental, social and active forms. It analyses interviews and documentary evidence concerning the planning and development of Christie Walk, an innovative, medium density eco-city development in Adelaide. The investigation reveals the effects of some Australian institutions on residents' efforts to live socially and environmentally sustainable lives in an urban environment. The paper offers transdisciplinary research and analysis, linking the fields of history, urban housing, community development and environmental theory.

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