Towards a Socially Inclusive Circular Economy: A Study of Tenant Engagement in European Social Housing Organisations

Halima Sacranie*, Sultan Çetin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


The concept of the Circular Economy (CE) draws on sustainability literature with its Triple Bottom Line framework of planet, profit and people (Merli, Preziosi, and Acampora 2018). This resonates with the underlying philosophy of CE, which implies “not only a change in the way of managing resources and business but also a modification of social interrelations”(Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015). However, literature on CE focuses predominantly on its economic and environmental benefits, while its social impacts remain unexplored (Kirchherret al, 2017; Merli et al, 2017; Geissdoerfer et al, 2017). Social housing organisations (SHOs)are by definition social-purpose driven and therefore ideal candidates to explore the neglected ‘people’ dimension of CE. Circular SHOs have the potential to create social impacting a number of ways. Improving their financial performance and resource efficiency ultimately strengthens the social housing sector and allows more housing investment into socio-economically disadvantaged communities. CE can change household attitudes towards embracing a more sustainable mode of dwelling and lifestyle, with added health and well-being benefits. The social impact focus of this study is the role of tenant engagement and how this can help foster a socially inclusive and collaborative CE model drawing on principles around social innovation and the social and solidarity economy.

Through case studies of four circular social housing projects in the Netherlands, France,Belgium and the UK respectively, this paper addresses the missing social aspect of CE(Murray et al, 2017) by exploring the role of tenants and tenant engagement in circular social housing. A multiple-case study method is adopted using questionnaires, documentary analysis and interviews with the four circular SHOs, providing an opportunity to undertake comparative research across different organisational scales and countries.The research findings reveal different approaches to how circularity is adopted in social housing, how SHOs understand and frame the social impact of their CE projects, and a range of tenant engagement models, from ‘business-as-usual’ to ‘new circular engagement,’ within existing organizational structures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial and Cultural Aspects of the Circular Economy
Subtitle of host publicationToward Solidarity and Inclusivity
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Electronic)9781032185804
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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