The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing: Insights from Karl Polanyi

Benjamin Baumgartner & Hans Volmary                                                                                                                                                                                  
September 2022

The Austrian Academy of Science has funded a three year research project coordinated by Johannes-Kepler University Linz and Vienna University of Economics and Business on “The Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing” (www.contestedcareandhousing.com). The project, which finances four PhD-students, investigates current transformations of care and housing provision by drawing on insights from Karl Polanyi. Care and housing are undergoing profound changes in contemporary market societies: on the one hand, we are witnessing a market shift towards enforced commodification of care and housing, on the other hand, there is a community shift potentially going along with their decommodification. Both, market- and community-based forms of care and housing provision are embedded in relations of dominance and inequality and are thus contested. In this context, the IKPS is organizing a debate on the “Contested Provisioning of Care and Housing”. It invites contributions shedding light on the contestation of care and housing provision by drawing on Polanyi’s core concepts:
(1) his substantive understanding of the economy, defined broadly as the organization of livelihoods,
(2) his four economic principles of (market) exchange, reciprocity, redistribution and householding,
(3) his concept of fictitious commodities and the related research on the commodification of goods (like housing) and services (like care) which have not been produced for exchange on markets and
(4) his analysis of a double movement of marketization (movement) and social protection (countermovement) that characterizes market societies. The contributions to this debate ideally try to discuss some of the following questions:
●What are commonalities and particularities of care and housing provision/regimes in different countries? How can Polanyian concepts enrich such (regime) analyses?
●What are commonalities and particularities of double movements, of marketization and social protection in care and housing?
●How does the sector-specific composition of the principles of economic behavior and dynamics of the double movement impact relations of dominance and inequality as well as their contestation in the field of care and housing?
The debate strives to bring together experts from both research areas, to exchange and advance perspectives on care and housing and, moreover, to discuss how Polanyi’s work can inspire the investigation of their contested societal provisioning.