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

Project info

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.
Project start
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Behavioral theory
  • Goals
  • Networks
Utrecht University
Utrecht University
Utrecht University
Erasmus University
  • History
  • Social dilemma
  • Sociology
  • Employers’ organizations
  • Governmental policymakers
  • HR managers
  • Organisation science
  • Policy advisors
  • Sociology
Work package
  • Care
Sustainability threat
  • Feedback Cycles
  • Creating caring communities
Theoretical background
A key societal challenge is an ever-increasing demand for healthcare accompanied by a retreat of the welfare state. As a response, we see 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. This project proposes to 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 will seek to collaborate with a national network of care cooperatives 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. Depending on the expertise and interests of the candidate, alternative research designs around the theme of emergence of (care) cooperatives can also be considered.
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