Sustainability Threat. The retreat of the welfare state goes hand in hand with the emergence of local self-governing institutions, so called caring communities. We are just beginning to understand how cooperation within caring communities functions. In recent times many predicted that the retreat would have negative feedback effects because local governments lack the necessary expertise and resources to coordinate the multiple stakeholders operating in complex organizational fields. The key question of this challenge is which institutional mechanisms should societies develop to make caring communities inclusive and accessible to all.

State of the art. An often implicit assumption that also seems to guide current policy making is that such caring communities emerge spontaneously and stay alive automatically.

Main Proposition. We assume that cooperation may be easy to trigger but it has a built-in tendency to decay unless it is kept alive through flanking arrangements. These arrangements can be rooted in cohesive network structures that enforce norms, or in strong institutional structures that increase opportunities and provide rewards, or they can be sought in strengthening of caregiver identities. The problem is that these mechanisms may reinforce each other but can also compete.

Main outcome. Institutional rules and regulations (both formal and informal) will be offered for the governance of caring communities and to make caring communities inclusive and accessible to all.


3.3. The emergence of sustainable care cooperatives: the role of social networks

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