The emergence of post-welfare platforms
Against a background of welfare state transformations and experimentation with new (local) forms of welfare provision, digital platforms are emerging as mediators of (professional and voluntary) social services and social support. This research project examines this emergence of what we call “post-welfare platforms”, questioning their institutional embeddedness and examining the welfare practices taking place on and around these platforms.
The first part of the research aims to examine the linkages between platforms and their surrounding institutional field. The following questions are raised:
- How are these platforms able to sustain themselves? What (public/private) networks of organizational, financial and technological support are necessary to sustain a post-welfare platform?
- What relations do these platforms have towards the existing welfare infrastructure of particular localities? How are these platforms (un)attached to existing local programs and institutions?
The second part of the research zooms in on the welfare, care and support practices taking place on and around post-welfare platforms, questioning what type of welfare provision these platforms enact and how they possibly reconfigure the notion of welfare. This part is driven by the following questions:
- Who is included and enabled to participate through these platforms and who isn’t? How do these in/exclusions interact with existing gender, racial, and class inequalities prevalent in the provision of welfare services?
- How do practices of social support take shape on these platforms? What is the institutional and technological impact of the platform here?
These questions are addressed within a cross-national comparative framework that includes three cities: Berlin (Germany), Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and New York (United States). Through this comparison, the project aims to provide insight into how the different socio-economic, policy, and material environments of these cities influence the operations of emerging post-welfare platforms.