Cardiff Metropolitan University
Phd Thesis Kirsten Stevens-Wood.pdf (3.22 MB)

Considering the experimentality of an Intentional Community: An ethnographic study into the ways in which communal living facilitates experimentation, creativity, and innovation

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posted on 2024-04-25, 13:57 authored by Kirsten Stevens-Wood

This thesis examines a single intentional community through the lens of experimentation. Using ethnographic methodologies, the research explores how experimentation is experienced and facilitated in the day-to-day life of a single British intentional community. Data were collected using a range of qualitative methodologies, including: participation observation, fieldwork notes and diaries and community documents. Data were analysed using grounded theory. Three core themes were identified: Decision making, Purpose and vision, and Age, ageing and the passing of time. From these, nine key findings were identified. 1) Living in an intentional community is, in and of itself, an experimental thing to do. The ‘act’ of living communally is an ongoing and lived experiment. 2) Decision making in groups with long term relationships are dynamically different. 3) Decision making that is not profit incentivised creates different types of experimental opportunities. 4) Non-hierarchical organisations initiate change through distributed responsibility and therefore offer more opportunity for non-decision making. 5) The day-to-day can often overshadow space and time for experimentation. 6) Long term embedded forms of experimentation found within intentional communities is both Big C and Little C (where C is creativity). 7) Internal experimentation becomes harder as communities become more stable and secure (in particular, financially secure). 8) Bureaucracy helps to set parameters and guidelines, but without regular opportunities for review also have the potential to constrain and inhibit experimentality. 9) Collective temporalities change the nature of experimentality.



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year