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Polanyi Family Podcasts



Care and housing are foundational for human well-being. Both deal with organising and
sustaining livelihoods: while care as a human activity reacts to the ever-given contingency
of life, housing arranges a place for undertaking everyday need-satisfying activities. In both
fields, crises have exacerbated over the last decades, manifesting in care gaps, labour
and care migration, and precarious working conditions of care workers, respectively in
overburdening costs due to the transformation of homes into assets, leading to
gentrification and segregation. Despite being seldomly investigated together, care and
housing as well as their related crises are co-constitutive.
From the 1990s onwards, two simultaneous tendencies can be observed in European care
regimes and housing systems. On the one hand, neoliberal reforms have aimed at
privatisation, commodification, marketisation, and financialisaton. This has rearranged
welfare states, promoting variegated forms of capitalism. Allegedly singular events like the
global financial crisis, subsequent austerity measures, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the
current cost of living crisis have furthermore deepened structural problems of access and
affordability. This has led to increasing socioeconomic and spatial polarisations as well as
social inequalities in the relations of gender, race, and class. On the other hand, these
developments have transformed the provision of care and housing into a contested terrain
leading to labour disputes and struggles, such as care protests, or initiatives for
expropriating institutional investors. The wide range of community-based or infrastructural
projects has to be seen against the backdrop of the increasing search for alternative care
and housing provision. On top of that, rapid technological developments and climate
change further accelerate the reorganisation of care and housing arrangements and
practices built up by all parties involved in both contested fields.

Given these multiple transformations, the conference “Transformative Change in the Contested Fields of Care and Housing in Europe” seeks to analyse the contemporary developments in care regimes and housing systems and respective configurations of care
and housing. 

Of particular interest is research which reflects on the connections of the two
fields. We aim at a broad interdisciplinary dialogue of social sciences to grasp different
perspectives of these multidimensional changes. Thus, we welcome scholars from
disciplines like sociology, socioeconomics, political economy, political science, geography,
philosophy, history, and interdisciplinary strands like gender and intersectionality studies
to contribute to the common investigation and discussion of the contested and entangled
fields of care and housing in Europe. We welcome both, theoretical approaches, and
empirical research, to analyse and reflect on the contemporary transformations, its causes,
and effects as well as commonalities and differences between fields and countries,
between city and countryside.

The conference aims at addressing the following questions with the explicit intention of
using multiple theoretical perspectives and to grasp the broad diversity of European
countries, regions, and cities:

• What are the driving forces of transformative change in the fields of care and housing?
Which social, economic, political, cultural, and technological dynamics and which
norms and values, demands and claims shape modes of care and housing provision?
• How do markets, the state, the family and the community reorganise care and
housing? What are other key actors in different institutional contexts at multiple levels
(from local to global)?
• Which disputes take place in “doing care” and “doing housing”? How do these relate
to multi-scalar struggles over working conditions, wages, and affordability as well as
the design of liveable neighbourhoods?
• What are relevant economic and political orders, welfare regimes, and social policies
and how do they structure different forms of care and housing provision?
• How do new modes, forms, and arrangements of care and housing provision promote
a different understanding of life and work? How are they interrelated with the
reorganisation of paid, unpaid and volunteer, professional and lay work and new forms
of work organisation?
• How are modes of care and housing provision and the transformative change in the
configuration of care and housing affected by the development and implementation of
digital technologies? How does technological change influence the meaning and
organisation of care and housing?
• How are modes of care and housing provision and the transformative change in the
configuration of care and housing affected by the climate crisis? How does it contribute
to changes in the governance of communities, neighbourhoods, and the living
environment to reconfigure care and housing provision?
• How do social, economic, gendered, and ethnic inequalities and socio-spatial
polarisations shape the organisation of care and housing? How do they affect
transformative change, social and ecological demands, and digitalisation of care and
housing arrangements?
• What are the commonalities and differences in the provision of care and housing?
How can theoretical and methodological approaches contribute to a better
understanding of care and housing in Europe? What are the potentials and limitations
of approaches that integrate both fields?

Abstract submission:

We invite researchers to submit an abstract (250-300 words and full affiliation of the
author/s) by 31st July 2023 and will inform you about the acceptance of your paper by 31st
August 2023. Please send your submissions to The
conference language is English. Travel and accommodation costs will not be covered by
the organisers; there are no conference fees.

“Transformative Change in the Contested Fields of Care and Housing in Europe “

We invite you to participate in the conference, which aims at addressing diverse questions with the explicit intention of using multiple theoretical perspectives and to grasp the broad diversity of European
countries, regions, and cities.

31st July, 2023

Submission Deadline

We invite researchers to submit an abstract (250-300 words and full affiliation of the
author/s) by 31st July 2023 and will inform you about the acceptance of your paper by 31st
August 2023. Please send your submissions to The
conference language is English. 

Organised by:

Johannes Kepler University Linz, 
WU Vienna,
Austrian Academy of Sciences – ÖAW,
University of Graz,
Competence Centre for Infrastructure Economics, Public Servies and Social Provisioning,

Organizers and chairs:
Brigitte Aulenbacher
Andreas Novy
Valentin Fröhlich
Benjamin Baumgartner
Florian Pimminger
Hans Volmary
Tobias Eder


Contested Marketisation and Communitisation of Care

Contested Marketisation and Communitisation of Care: Migrant live-in care and Caring Communities in Austria

15th of May, 2023

Florian Pimminger

As in many other European countries, the Austrian society is faced with challenges to organise care services for the growing share of senior people. Two tendencies can be identified to address occurring care gaps in the face of demographic transition: on the one hand, market-mediated provision of care and, on the other hand, the potential for care within communities.

In this article, we shed light on the ongoing marketisation of care work with respect to agency-mediated live-in care, conducted mostly by women from Eastern European countries, living and working as caregivers in Austrian households. Moreover, we focus on multi-faceted forms of communitisation in terms of caring communities, local and neighbourhood initiatives and alternative living arrangements for seniors. These developments, among others, can be analysed as controversial and ambivalent societal reactions to the ongoing “crisis of care” (Maier 2022).

Persistency and Fragility: Care Gaps within the Welfare State

Within the Austrian society, the ideal of living at home in old age is culturally and institutionally firmly anchored (cf. Bauer et al. 2014; Prieler 2021). At the same time, Austria’s welfare state shows different scopes of responsibility: “while the long-term care allowance [“Pflegegeld”] is a national responsibility, services are the responsibility of the provinces” (Österle 2021: 7). This means a primarily addressing of families, with state investments directed towards this. Idealising family care is supported by a variety of political measures. Despite public expansions of inpatient, day-care and mobile services, senior care provision “has traditionally been embedded in both family structures and state institutions securing and enabling those structures” (Weicht 2019: 264).

Despite equalisations, inequalities are shaping the feminised working environment of the care sector. Regarding the shift from a male-breadwinner to a so-called adult worker model, Austria is described as a “gendered model of explicit familialism, which reiterates the male breadwinner and female caregiver ideology” (Mairhuber/Sardadvar 2018: 66; Leitner 2014). Not only in the area of family-based provision, but also in the service sector administered by provincial authorities and the third sector (non-profit welfare agencies), working pressure is increasing and gaps are emerging.

Live-in-Care and Caring Communities as Reactions to Care Crisis

Especially since the legalisation of the self-employment model in 2007, agency-mediated live-in care has become an important pillar of care provisioning for seniors (Aulenbacher et al 2021; Österle 2021). On a European market for care work, agencies sell care (as a “fictitious commodity” in a Polanyian sense – cf. Aulenbacher et al. 2020) to more affluent societies, responding to growing demands.

Live-in care is organised as a market-oriented self-employment model, in which care in private homes of the cared-for is operated as a business, and caregivers as well as agencies are represented by the Chamber of Commerce. What is known in everyday language as “24-hour care” points discursively to the permanent availability of the caregivers. Mediated by currently around 1000 agencies of different size, these for- and non-profit organisations have become powerful actors, as they have a decisive influence on the conditions under which it is provided (Aulenbacher et al. 2021). This has resulted in a dynamically developing care market – transnationally and within the welfare state.

Live-in care workers are often referred to as virtual or imagined family members. Accordingly, relatives and family caregivers often associate care tasks with qualities that are typically assigned to families, like intimacy, love, or housekeeping (Weicht 2019). Thus, migrant caregivers, who live in the shared household, are often seen as substitute for family care. This relates to gender norms and family logics that are ingrained in the Austrian care regime (Aulenbacher et al. 2018). The arrangement is further consolidated through quality seals and additional financial subsidies (Aulenbacher et al. 2021; Österle 2021). Mostly large – for-profit and non-profit – agencies hold a special quality seal, trying to stand out against other agencies. In this way, agencies are seeking to make live-in care more competitive and sustainable (Aulenbacher et al. 2020).

However, movements have become apparent. Providers at regional levels and welfare agencies are trying find new ways to improve the arrangement through higher degrees of transparency, slightly enhanced working conditions, more integrated cooperation with mobile and medical services. Although the sector is growing steadily, the condition of the arrangement remains controversial. Critics focus on precarious working and living conditions, and coalitions of caregivers are formed (Aulenbacher et al. 2022; Maier 2022). These initiatives and NGOs are revealing problematic conditions of working in a foreign household and the challenges of pendulum migration.

In addition to tendencies towards marketisation, various community initiatives are gaining relevance, aiming at understanding care for senior citizens as a task to be dealt with collaboratively and at establishing more reciprocity-oriented care networks (Dressel et al. 2022; Wegleitner &Schuchter 2018; Wegleitner & Schuchter 2021).

What unites these diverse forms of communitisation, in all their heterogeneity, is to strengthen new cultures of care, cooperation and community-building. They often strive to bring together residents of a municipality or region with local family caregivers in order to raise awareness about issues of vulnerability, dying, death and loss, and how care work is currently allocated. As one project report puts it, it is a matter of “perceiving, organising and maintaining a multifaceted fabric of (caring) relationships” (Wegleitner & Schuchter 2021: 10).

Caring community projects are set up and supported by government institutions, in cooperation with local or confessional services and civil society actors. Currently, projects are promoted using the motto “Towards Good Neighbourhoods” or “Caring Communities for Future”, focusing on interaction between civil society initiatives and professionals. These (pilot) projects aim to improve the quality of life and health of citizens and reduce the burden on the health and care system.  

Community-based forms of care are still a niche phenomenon in Austria, which is gaining in importance. Financial incentives, support programs, the variety of projects as well as political and scientific debates on community-based forms of care indicate their increasing relevance. As societal reactions to insufficient public provision and to “fragmentation, bureaucratisation and commodification of care” (Wegleitner & Schuchter 2019: 5), caring communities can be interpreted as Polanyian counter-movements. At the same time, their organisation and embedding in the welfare state are controversial. The reorganisation of logics of (and through) communitisation may result in altered forms of division of labour. Gender inequalities can potentially be challenged but also de-thematised (Aulenbacher et al. 2018; Reimer & Riegraf 2016; Wegleitner & Schuchter 2018). In this context, questions arise about the extent to which more reciprocal community initiatives can contribute to new family, generational and gender arrangements. Or more generally: whether it could lead to questioning of traditional orientations that have shaped the provision of care so far.




Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Décieux, Fabienne / Riegraf, Birgit (2018): Capitalism goes care. Elder and child care between market, state, profession, and family and questions of justice and inequality. In: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 37/4, 347–360.

Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Leiblfinger, Michael / Prieler, Veronika (2020): The Promise of Decent Care and the Problem of Poor Working Conditions. Double Movements Around Live-In Care In Austria. In: 2, 1-21.

Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Lutz, Helma / Schwiter, Karin (Hg.) (2021): Gute Sorge ohne gute Arbeit? Live-in-Care in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Beltz Juventa.

Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Lutz, Helma / Schwiter, Karin (2022): “Live-in-Care” in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Interview mit Dr. Brigitte Aulenbacher, Universität Linz, Dr. Helma Lutz, Universität Frankfurt und Dr. Karin Schwiter, Universität Zürich. In: berufsbildung 76/4.

Bauer, Gudrun / Haidinger, Bettina / Österle, August (2014): Three Domains of Migrant Domestic Care Work: The Interplay of Care, Employment and Migration Policies in Austria. In: Bridget Anderson / Isabel Shutes (Hg.), Migration and care labour. Theory, policy and politics. Macmillan, 67–86.

Leitner, Sigrid (2014): Varieties of Familialism: Developing Care Policies in Conservative Welfare States. In: Philipp Sandermann (Hg.), The End of Welfare as We Know It? Verlag Barbara Budrich, 37–51.

Maier, Carina (2022): Nicht ohne ihre Kämpfe! Arbeits- und Lebensbedingungen der 24-Stunden- Betreuer*innen und vieles zu lernen für feministische Theorie. In: Momentum Quarterly – Zeitschrift für sozialen Fortschritt 11/1, 94–107.

Österle, August (2021): The Long-Term Care System in Austria. Social Policy Country Brief 12.

Prieler, Veronika (2021): ‘The Good Live-in Care Worker’: Subject Formation and Ethnicisation in Austrian Live-in Care. In: Sociológia 53/5, 483–501.

Reimer, Romy / Riegraf, Birgit (2016): Geschlechtergerechte Care-Arrangements? Zur Neuverteilung von Pflegeaufgaben in Wohn-Pflege-Gemeinschaften. Beltz Juventa.

Sardadvar, Karin / Mairhuber, Ingrid (2018): Employed family carers in Austria. The interplays of paid and unpaid work—beyond “reconciliation” In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie 43, 61–72.

Wegleitner, Klaus / Schuchter, Patrick (2018): Caring communities as collective learning process: findings and lessons learned from a participatory research project in Austria. In: Annals of palliative medicine 7, 84–98.

Wegleitner, Klaus / Schuchter, Patrick (2019): Sorgebeziehungen fördern: Caring Communities als sozial-ethische Prozesse des Voneinander-Lernens. In: Dialog Ethik 140, 4–7.

Wegleitner, Klaus / Schuchter, Patrick (2021): Handbuch Caring Communities – Sorgenetze stärken – Solidarität leben. Eigenverlag Rotes Kreuz.


Weicht, Bernhard (2019): The commodification of informal care: joining and resisting marketization processes. In: Roland Atzmüller / Brigitte Aulenbacher / Ulrich Brand / Fabienne Décieux / Karin Fischer / Birgit Sauer (Hg.), Capitalism in Transformation: Movements and Countermovements in the 21st Century. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 261–274.

Florian Pimminger

Ph.D. student in Social Sciences, Economics and Business. Fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) at the Institute of Sociology (Department for the Theory of Society and Social Analyses) of the Johannes Kepler University Linz. As part of the ÖAW DOC-team 114 “The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing” ( he is currently conducting a project on the societal organisation of care between marketisation and communitisation in the care regimes of Austria, Hungary, and the Netherlands. The blog post is the result of close cooperation with Brigitte Aulenbacher and Valentin Fröhlich within this project. Contact details:

Read the other essays on the Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing here: 

Program & Streaming Link for Public Lecture by 5th visiting professor Julia Steinberger

PUBLIC LECTURE BY julia steinberger

Find our Program and the Streaming Link for the event here:

More Information

“Living Well Within Limits”

For our international community, we provide a streaming of the event.


Living Well Within Limits

Visiting Professorship - Julia Steinberger

Living well within limits
public lecture

May 30th, 2023 

Julia Steinberger, professor of Ecological Economics at University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Andreas Novy, WU Vienna, IKPS
Jürgen Essletzbichler, Head of the Department for Socioeconomics, WU Vienna
Ulrich Brand, ÖFSE
Marina Fischer-Kowalski, University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences
Daniel Huppmann, IIASA

On May 30th, 2023 the Viennese Karl Polanyi Visiting Professorship will be awarded for the fifth time. This semester’s Visiting Professor Julia Steinberger will hold her Public Lecture at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien). The event will also be streamed here.

Kenyote: Living Well Within Limits

This talk will report on the multiple research streams resulting from the Living Well Within Limits project. The Living Well Within Limits project investigates the energy requirements of well-being, from quantitative, participatory and provisioning systems perspectives. In this presentation, I will communicate individual and cross-cutting findings from the project, and their implications. In particular, I will share our most recent results on global energy footprint inequality, implications of redistribution, as well as modelling the minimum energy demand that would provide decent living standards for everyone on earth by 2050. I will show that achieving low-carbon well-being, both from the beneficiary (“consumer”) and supply-chain (“producer”) sides, involves strong distributional and political elements. Simply researching this area from a technical, social or economic lens is insufficient to draw out the reasons for poor outcomes and most promising avenues for positive change. I thus argue for the active involvement of the research community.

“Simply researching this area from a technical, social or economic lens is insufficient to draw out the reasons for poor outcomes and most promising avenues for positive change. I thus argue for the active involvement of the research community.”

We are looking forward to seeing many of you there! 

Analysing Senior Care in its Change

Debate on The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing

Analysing Senior Care in its Change – The Twofold Hybridity in the Societal Embedding of Marketised and Communitised Care

10th of May, 2023

Valentin Fröhlich

Due to societal transformation, the field of senior care is in flux. Responding to growing demands and arising care gaps or even crises in European countries, the interaction of the state, market, communities, third sector and families or individuals has shifted. On the one hand intensified outsourcing of senior care to the private sector, the responsibilisation of individuals as well as the family and the growing presence of profit-oriented companies, selling care on transnational markets was observed (cf. Aulenbacher 2020; Vaittinen et al. 2018; Lutz 2017). Accordingly, in-kind services are replaced and supplemented by financial subsidies, leading to commodification. As a result, the creation of markets is politically motivated, supported, or accelerated, leading to marketisation, and corporative practices are increasingly introduced, leading to corporatisation (Farris & Marchetti 2017). On the other hand, cuts in or outsourcing of public services entail not only market-oriented care services but also ambivalent civic society engagement and protective responses by the community. In this context, through the rise of a configuration that has been called “community capitalism” (van Dyk & Haubner 2021), not only individuals, the market, and companies, but also volunteers, unpaid work, and civic engagement are taken into service, creating a distinct instrumentalization of the “resource” community. Yet in contrast, community building also deals with the struggle to organise social environment collectively, involving attempts to create an adequate political and regulatory framework for providing care, making care visible, promoting participation (Wegleitner & Schuchter 2021; Klie 2019), and the “search for future images of successful care” (Schuchter et al. 2022: 230; own translation).

Shifted responsibilities were thereby not only accompanied by the further evolvement of market-based (agency-brokered) care and the progression of caring communities into an important pillar of senior care provisioning in affluent societies but also by movements in the practice, requirements, orientation, and societal framing of these care arrangements. While the established model of transnationally operating agencies consists in the placement of largely migrant female care workers in the household of the cared for, changing patterns and cross-sectoral activities have become apparent and although a caring community is already defined by its openness (cf. Sempach et al. 2023) these changes and new activities at the interface of communities, the state, the family, and the market are also increasingly taking place. This not only suggests that the field of care and, in this respect, the marketisation and communitisation of care are contested, but moreover opens the question of whether changes in the provision of care and the organisation of care work are potentially due to precisely this contested nature. It is thus this very question that prompts us to consider the tendencies of marketisation and communitisation not as mechanical or deterministic, but rather as inherently heterogeneous and hybrid, and this at least in a twofold way. In this blog-entry, we take this thought of a “twofold hybridity” further by combining Polanyi’s substantivist understanding of the economy with the institutional logics perspective.

Principles of ‘Caring’ Behaviour …

According to Polanyi, man “survives by virtue of an institutionalized interaction between himself and his natural surroundings. That process is the economy, which supplies him with the means of satisfying his material wants” (Polanyi 1977: 20). This substantivist economy is thereby not to be confused with a formalist definition, i.e. the equation of “the human economy with its market form” (ibid.), as economic processes or the organization of livelihood are not solely characterized by (market-)exchange but also by redistribution, reciprocity and householding[1] (ibid. 2001). These principles manifest in “heterogeneous combinations; and even where one is clearly dominant, that dominance may be codependent on other forms” (Peck 2013: 1555). With this understanding, Polanyi thus provides tools to examine variegated forms of market-based and community-based care provision and allows to reveal the formative hybrid interplay of different principles. If we look at the movement towards marketised agency-brokered live-in care through this lens, it becomes apparent that the commodification, marketisation and corporatization of care is decisively shaped by the principle of (market-)exchange, but that the tendency of disembedding results in redistributive or reciprocal reactions, without which it could not persist as an even more establishing arrangement (cf. Aulenbacher et al. 2018a, b). While the state occupies an ambivalent stance in the provision of care – pushing markets for centuries –, redistributive policies or regulations bear the potential to counteract the effects of marketisation. Reciprocity is not only fundamental to any (care) relationship – although sometimes asymmetrically and thus not in a strictly Polanyian sense –, it also is the basis for creating bonds between different actors who, as a community, build a place for advocacy or protest. As care in the household of the person to be cared for, live-in care furthermore encompasses or even appropriates the principle of householding by integrating the caregiver as a (quasi-)member into this self-sufficient unit.  

… and the Institutional Differentiation of Society

In addition to Polanyi’s theory, we draw on the institutional logics perspective to examine how (market-)exchange, redistribution, householding, and reciprocity interact with the institutional order of society and corresponding logics. Logics as defined by Thornton et al. (2012: 2) are “assumptions, values, and beliefs by which individuals and organisations provide meaning to their daily activity, organise time and space, and reproduce their lives and experiences”; that emerge from and are linked to “institutional orders” of the family, community, religion, state, market, profession, and corporation (ibid.: 104). As stated by Brigitte Aulenbacher et al. (2014: 213) for the field of care and care work, institutional logics express themselves as guiding action individually, organizationally, and institutionally (cf. Aulenbacher et al. 2018a, b), thus enabling us to examine how – and according to which implicit rules – actors orient their practices. At the same time, actors may refer to different logics that are potentially conflictive, but also mutually benefiting each other (Dammayr 2019: 67f.). This means that market logics and the principle of market exchange respectively logics of the community and community principles can coexist with each other and with logics of the state, corporation, profession, religion, and family. In the provision of live-in care cash-for-care policies, competing agencies on an ever-growing care market, and the family’s demand for “loving”, intimate but also professional care work provided at home intertwine. In contrast, caring communities rearrange logics and are oriented towards reciprocity, which may conflict with market or corporate logics.

As an analytical tool, our concept of a “twofold hybridity” hence encompasses the configuration of economic processes as entangled, mutually dependent principles and a further societal differentiation in the provisioning of care along the institutional orders of the family, the market, the corporation, the community, the state, the profession, and religion.



Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Dammayr, Maria / Décieux, Fabienne (2014): Herrschaft, Arbeitsteilung, Ungleichheit: Das Beispiel der Sorgearbeit und Sorgeregime im Gegenwartskapitalismus. In: Prokla 175, 44(2), 209-224.

Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Décieux, Fabienne / Riegraf, Birgitt (2018a): Capitalism goes care. Elder and child care between market, state, profession, and family and questions of justice and inequality. In: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 37(4), 347-360.

Aulenbacher, Brigitte / Décieux, Fabienne / Riegraf, Birgitt (2018b): The economic shift and beyond. Care as a contested terrain in contemporary capitalism. In: Current Sociology, 66(4), 517-530.

Aulenbacher, Brigitte (2020): Auf neuer Stufe vergesellschaftet: Care und soziale Reproduktion im Ge-genwartskapitalismus. In: Karina Becker / Kristina Binner / Fabienne Décieux (Hg.), Ge-spannte Arbeits- und Geschlechterverhältnisse im Marktkapitalismus. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden; Springer VS, 125–147.

Dammayr, Maria (2019): Legitime Leistungspolitiken? Leistung, Gerechtigkeit und Kritik in der Altenpflege. Arbeitsgesellschaft im Wandel. Weinheim: Beltz.

van Dyk, Silke / Haubner, Tine (2021): Community-Kapitalismus. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition.

Farris, Sara R. / Marchetti, Sabrina (2017): From the Commodification to the Corporatization of Care. European Perspectives and Debates. In: Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society 24/2, 109–131.

Klie, Thomas (2019): Wen kümmern die Alten? Auf dem Weg in eine sorgende Gesellschaft. Pattloch.

Lutz, Helma (2017): Care as a fictitious commodity. Reflections on the intersections of migration, gender and care regimes. In: Migration Studies 5/3, 356–368.

Peck, Jamie (2013): For Polanyian Economic Geographies. In: Environment and Planning A, 45, 1545-1568.

Polanyi, Karl (1977): The livelihood of man. New York, N.Y. u.a.: Acad. Press.

Polanyi, Karl (2001): The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of Our Times. Boston: Beacon Press.

Schuchter, Patrick / Wegleitner, Klaus / Herpich, Andreas (2022): Die Dialektik der Sorge zwischen Regel und Ausnahme: Ethische Reflexionen zu „Care & Corona“ rund um das Hospiz Veronika Eningen. In: Limina 5/1, 223–249.

Sempach, Robert / Steinebach, Christoph / Zängl, Peter (Hg.) (2023): Care Schafft Community – Community Braucht Care. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH.

Thornton, Patricia H. / Ocasio, William / Lounsbury, Michael (2012): The Institutional Logics Perspective: A New Approach to Culture, Structure, and Process. Oxford University Press.

Vaittinen, Tiina / Hoppania, Hanna-Kaisa / Karsio, Olli (2018): Marketization, commodification and privatization of care services. In: Juanita Elias / Adrienne Roberts (Hg.), Handbook on the international political economy of gender. Cheltenham Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, 379–391.

Wegleitner, Klaus / Schuchter, Patrick (2021): Handbuch Caring Communities – Sorgenetze stärken – Solidarität leben. Eigenverlag Rotes Kreuz.

[1] We are deeply indepted to Anna Safuta’s seminal comment at the workshop “The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing”, pointing out the essentiality of householding in analysing senior care that takes place in the (private) household of families or the realm of communities. 

Valentin Fröhlich

Valentin Fröhlich, MSSc, BSc: Ph.D. student in Social Sciences and Humanities. Fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) at the Institute of Sociology (Department for the Theory of Society and Social Analyses) of the Johannes Kepler University Linz and Student Research Assistant at the Institute of the History of Philosophy of the Catholic Private University Linz. As part of the ÖAW DOC-team 114 “The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing” ( he is currently researching the societal organisation of care between marketisation and communitisation in the care regimes of Austria, Hungary, and the Netherlands. The blog post is the result of close cooperation with Brigitte Aulenbacher and Florian Pimminger within this project.

Read the other essays on the Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing here: 

Permanent Call for IKPS Polanyi Papers

Permanent Call for Polanyi Papers

Polanyi Paper series​

March, 2023

The “Polanyi Papers” series of the IKPS plans to collect texts which deal with ongoing transformations and explore contemporary challenges inspired by Karl Polanyi or further the debates on Polanyi’s work and concepts.

The series is open for contributions by international scholars but also, students, doctoral students and/or Ph.D. holders who have written a paper on his work or on a topic on current issues which utilizes Polanyi’ work as a theoretical framework and starting point. The paper series aims to contribute to the international debates on the contemporary relevance of Karl Polanyi’s work. In particular for young researchers, it offers the opportunity to contribute to the international debate on Polanyi’s work and have their work discussed by international experts. Papers should not exceed 6000 words and will be reviewed by the IKPS team.

If you wish to submit a paper, please send it to Maria Markantonatou or Roland Atzmüller


Author’s Guide​
All submissions should be prepared in accordance with this guideline and submitted to the series editors by email
• as a WORD document (set in Calibri)
• Full title (& subtitle)
• all authors’ full names
• short author CV – 150 words max. each
• abstract – 200-300 words
• main text file – under 6000 words subdivided into at least 3 sub-sections including titles
• references in APA 7th style

The IKPS will use an uniform cover page, Impressum and format the paper text, images and graphs according to the series’ formatting style.

Public Lecture by 4th visiting professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus

We cordially invite you to our next Public Lecture!

Public lecture by 4th visiting professor bernhard ebbinghaus

Welfare state resilience as a countermovement in economic crises?
Europe facing the Great Recession and the Pandemic

January 2023

The lecture will be held in German.

The lecture discusses the use of employment policy in the two major economic crises of the twentieth century. It explores the two crisis periods: the Great Recession following the global financial market crash of 2008 and the health challenge plus economic crisis during the Coronavirus pandemic since early 2020. These have been laboratories of ad hoc and lasting changes in welfare states. Comparing welfare states across Europe, the analysis will investigate the social and employment policies to increase the resilience of welfare states through enhancing the absorptive and adaptive capacity during a crisis. It also pays attention to the role of social partners in coping with the two crises. The empirical analysis focuses on the use of job retention and other policies to stabilize income and reduce unemployment during the crisis, using policy trackers and macro-indicators.

January 18th 2023, 7:00 pm (CET)
Urania, Dachsaal 
The lecture will be held in German

Organized by:

University of Vienna
Institute for Multilevel-Governance and Development (WU Vienna);
International Karl Polanyi Society


In cooperation with Stadt Wien


More ‘News’: 

Linz, 04th – 06th December 2023: Transformative Change in the Contested Fields of Care and Housing in Europe
You can now read the final Program & find the streaming link for the Public Lecture by Julia Steinberger here!
Now Open! Permanent Call for contributions by international scholars but also, students, doctoral students and Ph.D. holders.
POSTPONED! Join us for the public lecture by our fourth Vienna Karl Polanyi Visiting Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus on January 18th
We invite you to dive deeper with us into the topic of “provisioning” with the fields of care & housing
We are delighted to invite you to our New Webinar Series on “Shaping Provisioning Systems for Social-Ecological Transformation”
Einstieg in das Leben und Werk Karl Polanyi’s – die Vorträge als Videos
Einladung zu unserer Ausstellungs-Finissage
Join us for the public lecture by our third Vienna Karl Polanyi Visiting Professor Ayşe Buğra on May 17th @7pm

Bringing life’s work to market: Performation struggles and incomplete commodification on the margins

Debate on The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing

Bringing life’s work to market: Performation struggles and incomplete commodification on the margins

15th of September, 2022

Christian Berndt

“Housing markets are less liquid, but people are very careful when they buy houses. It’s typically the biggest investment they’re going to make, so they look around very carefully and they compare prices. The bidding process is very detailed.“

This is how the economist Eugene Fama responded to a question about the efficiency of the real estate and housing market in an interview on the eve of the 2008/2009 US mortgage crisis (Clement 2007). Fama is considered the “father” of the so-called efficient market hypothesis. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2013 for his research. Even in the face of emerging distortions, Fama saw no reason to abandon the efficiency assumption. For him, house and apartment buyers in particular weigh their decisions carefully. They look around carefully and compare prices, the material condition of the properties and their locations. In short, they calculate rationally. This is precisely how perfect market competition works in mainstream economics. In their simplest form, markets are efficient because market prices reflect all available information. For neoclassical economists, markets are infallible and are therefore fundamentally better suited to solving environmental and social problems than, for example, the state or a social community.

A cascading number of crises that seem to follow each other in ever shorter time intervals have since made it increasingly difficult to dismiss suggestions of market failure in such a cavalier way. The ongoing presence of orthodox economic thinking notwithstanding, there is reason to believe that the times of radical market thinking and unfettered neoliberal marketization are finally over. This is a perfect moment to think differently about markets and marketization and to break to spell of the neoclassical market. I will use the space of this blog entry to do so on the example of housing, combining insights of “social studies of economization” (Çalışkan and Callon, 2010) and “geographies of marketization” (Berndt and Boeckler 2012, 2020) with Polanyian political economy. I will do so by making three related arguments:

The first is the conviction that it is marketization as a process that matters, and not markets as self-contained entities. The focus is on markets “in the making”, a process that is necessarily incomplete and unstable. As such marketization is the work of a large number of actors, human and non-human, who arrange markets in a delicate double play of entanglement and disentanglement – or, to use the words of STS scholars, “framing”. In the housing market framing is the work of a human-nonhuman working group of real estate agents who apply models and knowledge from their various practice disciplines; material devices such as valuation models and formulas, benchmarks, online platforms, maps, redlining; and of course wider regulatory structures. What would the marketization of housing be without institutionalized property rights, legal norms or various kinds of standards? But assembling these heterogeneous agents is not enough. Before they can be entangled other connections have to be cut. When real estate practitioners perform their calculations they have to bracket out all kinds of “non-economic” considerations. All these provide the frames that make market transactions possible. But framing is never complete. The “entities” in question exceed the various frames, there are “overflows” that cause friction and irritation. In the case of housing this may concern non-market valuations of a certain neighborhood or emotional attachment to the places in question. Or protests against the growing presence of various “others” (wealthy gentrifiers, people perceived as “foreign”).

Second, by reading marketization from below, that is, from the vantage point of actually-existing market settings, prescriptive orthodox representations lose their overshadowing hegemony. There are always additional logics and rationalities at work. The ideal-type understanding of the market is always only one of these logics. This may happen in relative harmony, but more often involves struggles between antagonistic rationalities, strategies, and values. With Karl Polanyi (1957) one might point to his well-known institutional forms, each associated with a particular social pattern: in addition to price-making housing markets there are collective, cooperative housing projects that are stabilized by symmetrical ties of community; or state-administered social housing, working along redistributive logics. But what is crucial is that neither of these logics exist in isolation. A cooperative housing project, for instance, can never fully disentangle itself from the redistributive state (taxes, property title) or from market forces (land prices, wider rent levels). There are potentially unlimited possibilities, giving form to institutionally diverse markets that can only adequately be mapped with careful empirical analysis: Markets are institutionally diverse and have to be studied in their diversity.

Third, when we start with the insight that marketization can never be fully successful because nothing can be commodified “all the way down” (Fraser, 2014), there is greater acknowledgement of how misfires and overflows set limits and provide openings for resistance and alternatives. There are obvious connections with Polanyi’s forceful argument that the expansion of “market organization in respect to genuine commodities was accompanied by its restriction in respect to fictitious ones” (1957, p. 79). For Polanyi the market was checked on the terrain of labor, land and money. As elements not originally produced for sale these are responsible for what he famously referred to as “double movement”.

Housing is a key terrain on which to study the ongoing unequal marketization and reframing of activities that have hitherto been relatively shielded from market logics. The agents involved are engaged in struggles over social reproduction. There are attempts to reclaim lost terrain in the name of state redistribution; for instance, when citizens voted for the re-municipalization of Berlin’s public housing stock after the city government sold it to private real estate companies; or when there are attempts to reclaim lost terrain in the name of communal sharing. In Zürich where about a quarter of rental housing is provided by Wohnungsbaugenossenschaften, voters have obliged the city government to increase this share to 30 percent. This reminds us that marketization always emerges as the effect of political struggles that inscribe new social differences onto existing ones, throwing into sharp relief that marketization is gendered, racialized, and immersed in class relations and that there is a need to center categories of difference in processes of marketization. 

Such an understanding of markets as continuously in the making (marketization), as being institutionally variegated (diverse markets), and as involving incomplete commodification processes that are shot through with inequalities and power asymmetries (market struggles) can be considered as an emerging consensus within critical market studies. The “Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing” Workshop provided perfect examples for this, offering valuable state-of-the-art studies that illustrate perfectly what theoretically informed empirical analyses of marketization processes are capable of achieving.



Berndt, C., & Boeckler, M. (2012). Geographies of marketization. In T. Barnes, J. Peck, & E. Sheppard (Eds.), The New Companion to Economic Geography (pp. 199–212). Wiley-Blackwell.

Berndt, C., & Boeckler, M. (2020). Geographies of marketization: Performation struggles, incomplete commodification and the “problem of labour.” In C. Berndt, J. Peck, & N. Rantisi (Eds.), Market/Place: Exploring Spaces of Exchange (pp. 69–88). Agenda Publishing.

Çalışkan, K., & Callon, M. (2010). Economization, part 2: A research programme for the study of markets. Economy and Society, 39(1), 1–32.

Clement, D. (2007). Interview with Eugene Fama. The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. (last accessed 3 October 2022)

Fraser, N. (2014). Can society be commodities all the way down? Post-Polanyian reflections on capitalist crisis. Economy and Society, 43(4), 541–558.

Polanyi, K. (1957). The economy as instituted process. In K. Polanyi, C. M. M. Ahrensberg, & H. W. W. Pearson (Eds.), Trade and Markets in the Early Empires (pp. 243–270). Free Press.

Christian Berndt

Christian Berndt is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Zürich.

Read the other essays on the Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing here: 

Using Polanyi’s Principles of Economic Behavior for Assessing the New Wave of Collaborative Housing in Europe

Debate on The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing

Using Polanyi’s Principles of Economic Behavior for Assessing the New Wave of Collaborative Housing in Europe

15th of September, 2022

Benjamin Baumgartner

Over the last years, citizens across Europe have become more active in providing for their own housing, often in collaborative arrangements of groups supported by public, third sector and/or private actors (Czischke 2017). Commentators speak of a “new wave” of collaborative housing unfolding across Europe – referring to an umbrella term that includes different housing forms (e.g. cooperatives or self-building groups) with varying degree of participation and community engagement (Lang et al. 2018).

In this blog post, I reflect on the novel collaborative housing initiative “Bikes and Rails” in Vienna and analyze how it reconfigures Karl Polanyi’s principles of economic behavior: market exchange, reciprocity and redistribution. In his later years, Polanyi came to believe that all economic processes would represent a combination of these three organizational principles, but one would often dominate to “integrate” the process or to achieve “unity and stability” (Polanyi 1977: 286). Market exchange is a mode mediated by trade, money, supply and demand, while reciprocity is characterized by forms of symmetrical social relations. Redistribution involves the allocation and distribution via a central authority (cf. Polanyi 1977: 35-47; Jessop & Sum 2019). From this perspective, countermovements against marketization function by promoting the dominance of redistribution and/or reciprocity in the provisioning process, in our case housing. To understand how this plays out, we must also take the Viennese housing system into consideration that provides the structures in which the housing initiative is embedded in.

Having lived there himself, Polanyi admired the achievements of “Red Vienna” (1919-34), which started as an emancipatory municipal project addressing the poor living conditions of the working class. Housing provision since then developed into an innovative top-down approach centered, among other characteristics, on two crucial aspects:

  1. While the municipality still maintains a large housing stock (22%), Vienna has increasingly shifted responsibility of direct provision from the public into the hands of limited profit housing associations (LPHAs). Operating under the umbrella of limited profit housing law, LPHAs are today the main providers of affordable housing in Vienna. Additionally, “housing development competitions” have become the most important steering instrument how the city still intervenes in housing provision. Usually organized by the Vienna fund for housing construction, it distributes publicly owned land to developers based on a point system with four categories: economic aspects, ecology, architecture and social sustainability. The social sustainability category allows the responsible advisory boards to consider the benefits of collaborative elements (Gruber & Lang, 2018).
  2. Vienna’s affordable housing is characterized by high levels of supply side subsidies (around 0.6% of GDP). Total housing related public expenditures amount to 0.9% of GDP (Baron et al. 2021). In a European context, this amount is comparatively low and considered highly effective (Wieser et al 2013). The affordable segment provides cost-rent, which means that future rents are set on levels to ensure the refinancing of production costs. The scheme also defines maximum land and construction prices to ensure relatively low rents. Most granted subsidies are provided in the form of long-term, low-interest loans for new housing construction. This system has created a sizable revolving fund: Repaid loans can be used to finance new construction, which decreases the financial burden on the municipality (Mundt 2018).

The housing initiative Bikes and Rails started as a collaborative building group that applied for building plots in a development competition. As a member of “habiTaT Austria”, they are organized according to the principles of the better-known German “Mietshäuser Syndikate”. The syndicate network officially aims to create housing “free of speculation”. In practice, this means that the building is managed by a housing common (the residents) and bought by a legal entity, co-owned by the residents (51%) and by the HabiTaT solidarity network (49%). HabiTaT has no rights to interfere with the project, except for a veto on the sale of the building. The underlying rational being that once all running loans are repaid, the building will be kept out of the (speculative) housing market forever.

This veto introduces additional elements of redistribution and reciprocity. This is achieved by moving parts of property ownership into the hands of a central authority with an articulated agenda to keep the property out of the market. Residents also pay a solidarity contribution to the network as part of their rent, which will be used to support other projects. Since financial contributions to HabiTaT Austria’s network are shared only among similar project, this redistributing mechanism features strong reciprocal elements.

Bikes and Rails funding model follows a unique approach utilizing a mix of public and private loans. The city of Vienna granted the public loan as part of its affordable housing scheme. The private loans are divided into 1) a loan from a bank and 2) direct loans provided by supportive individuals. Any individual can contribute between 500 and 50 000 Euro in the form of direct loans and decide on an interest rate between 0 and 2%. (Bikes and Rails 2020). These direct loans also help as starting capital to back the loan from the bank.

Even though the pooling of financial resources based on reciprocity within the family is a widespread practice, the project, extends these reciprocal relations to a larger group. Since interest rates on direct loans are lower (on average 0.8%), this achieves a decommodifying effect. Nevertheless, market exchange constitutes the dominant economic principle instituting this mode of finance. This can be illustrated by the relative size of the loans: The total financing amount of €5.4 million was split as follows: bank loan: €2.8 (1.45% interest over 35 years); public loan (1% interest): €1.1 and direct loans 1.5 million (roughly 0.8% based on previous experience) (Bikes and Rails 2020). Thus, the bank loan covers more than half of the financing requirements.

As cost-rent, construction and financing costs of the building directly translate into Bikes and Rails’ rent levels. Average rental costs amount to €10.8 per 2m (Bikes and Rails 2020). While this is lower compared to newly constructed dwellings in the private segment, it exceeds average costs in the whole rental sector in Vienna, which add up to 8.6€ and overall newly build apartments, which amount to 9.8€ (Statistik Austria 2020). At this level, Bikes and Rails provide affordable rents for middle-income earners. However, the overall higher quality of the building, including large communal spaces have not been considered in this.

What insights might we gain from using Polanyi’s principles of economic behavior as a tool for investigating how novel decommodification measures work in housing provision? Most notably, principles of economic behavior always exist in hybrid configurations: although the housing initiative strengthens reciprocity and redistribution (e.g. with their innovative ownership structure), it can only provide affordable rents due to its embedding in the wider Viennese housing system. Moreover, members of Bikes and Rails share the vision of (re)moving the building from the housing market; however, they must still engage with upstream markets for building plots, construction materials or mortgages. Overall, this perspective, thus, calls into question the idea that the economy and society are separate and somewhat autonomous realms – a key Polanyian concern. 


Baron, H. et al. (2021) Wohnungspolitik und Wohnversorgung Bericht aus fünf wachsenden europäischen Millionenstädten. Available at: (Accessed: 7 July 2022).

Bikes and Rails (2020) Gläsernes Bikes and Rails. Geschäftsplan. Available at: content/uploads/attach/BnR_04_Informationen_Finanzen_Recht.pdf (Accessed: 7 June 2022).

Czischke, D. (2018) ‘Collaborative housing and housing providers: towards an analytical framework of multi-stakeholder collaboration in housing co-production’, International Journal of Housing Policy, 18(1), pp. 55–81.

Gruber, E., & Lang, R. (2018). Collaborative housing models in Vienna through the lens of social innovation: Austria. In Affordable Housing Governance and Finance (pp. 41-58). Routledge.

Jessop, B. and Sum, N.-L. (2019) ‘Polanyi: Classical Moral Economist or Pioneer Cultural Political Economist?’, Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 44(2), pp. 153–167. Available at:

Lang, R., Carriou, C. and Czischke, D. (2020) ‘Collaborative Housing Research (1990–2017): A Systematic Review and Thematic Analysis of the Field’, Housing, Theory and Society, 37(1), pp. 10–39.

Polanyi, K. (2001) The great transformation: the political and economic origins of our time. 2nd Beacon Paperback ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Polanyi, K. and Pearson, H.W. (1977) The livelihood of man. New York: Academic Press (Studies in social discontinuity).


Benjamin Baumgartner

Benjamin Baumgartner is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Vienna). He holds a degree in Social-Ecological Economics & Policy (SEEP) and is fields of research include Social Policy, especially Care and Housing, Foundational Economics, Ecological Economics and Social-Ecological tranformation.

Read the other essays on the Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing here: