Aim of the project
This project aims at a detailed description and understanding of the social network of care cooperatives, and it will examine conditions under which care cooperatives are developed and sustained.

Theoretical background
A key challenge in the care domain relates to how the retreat of the welfare state goes hand in hand with the emergence of local self-governing institutions, so-called care cooperatives. Care cooperatives, as local, autonomous associations governed by the relevant stakeholders (both care recipients and care workers), may be able to organize care more efficiently on a local scale, for example to help elderly people to retain their independence  and live  in their own home. At the same time, the successful development and maintenance of cooperatives as collective goods is not self-evident. One factor theorized to be crucial role in the emergence of collective action is the structure of social networks. Keeping the group size limited and the conditions for membership well-defined are also hypothesized to increase social control and monitoring and subsequently to positive self-reinforcing mechanisms. We will study the structure of the informal network and the strength of informal social relations between families, relatives and the wider local community around the family. 

Research design
We aim to collaborate with a national network of care cooperatives (NLZVE) to collect survey data among members of multiple care cooperatives measuring social networks of participants, the nature of participation, care needs, and other relevant variables.  In addition, laboratory experiments will be designed to study causal mechanisms that link social network structure, group size, and institutional factors to cooperation in cooperatives.

De Moor, T. (2013). Homo cooperans. Institutions for collective action and the compassionate society. Inaugural lecture, Utrecht University.

Gould, R.V. (1993). Collective action and network structure. American sociological review, 58, 82-196.

Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutional of collective action. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Project initiators
Tanja van der Lippe, Rense Corten, Tine De Moor

Utrecht University

Sociology & History


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