Care platforms as emerging welfare actors
Increasingly, digital platforms intervene in the provision of social services such as home-based care. The question then arises to what extent and how they function as welfare actors and how they can be understood in light of ongoing welfare state transitions, in particular a transition toward the emergence of what has been called ‘post-welfare’ societies.
First, the project aims to understand the institutional settings and transformations in which paid care platforms participate. The care sector is currently facing complex challenges such as an ageing society and a shortage of care workers – a problem referred to as the “crisis of care” – and an accompanying renewed moral appeal on families, neighbors, and ‘the community’ at large to devote more time to care work. This raises the following questions:
- How do care platforms position themselves vis-à-vis the “crisis of care” and in relation to other institutions in this sector, such as municipalities, voluntary and family caregivers, and ‘traditional’ care-providers?
- To what extent do these platforms take over functions usually associated with the state or established care-providing institutions?
Second, the project aims to develop a comparative analysis of care platforms themselves, addressing their everyday operations, business models, and labor practices. This part of the project is guided by the following questions:
- What care services do these platforms deliver and how do they approach their service delivery – i.e. how do they define and possibly rework the notion of care provision?
- Who is included and enabled to participate through these platforms and who is left out?
- What social and economic relations are formed and encouraged by these platforms, and what kind of relations are discouraged?
The above questions are addressed in a cross-national comparative framework that includes three cities: Berlin (Germany), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and New York (United States). Through this comparison, the project aims to provide insight into how the different socio-economic, policy, and material environments of these cities influence the operations of care platforms.