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2018 Conference Presentation

Markets/regulation Austria

10 September 2018

Agencies as actors on the domestic care market – an analysis of home care agencies providing 24h-care in Vienna, Austria

Veronika Prieler, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Michael Leiblfinger, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria


Shifting from family and state provision to market-based care, home care agencies are new actors on the growing care markets in many welfare states. Within the conservative, family-oriented Austrian welfare regime – with policies pushing a domestic care market by legalizing and professionalizing a 24h-care-model on top of the existing universal and uncommitted cash-for-care scheme – home care agencies offer services in a wide range of personal care. The agencies typically recruit female migrant care workers from Eastern Europe and offer live-in arrangements to private households. Our paper builds on an analysis of Viennese care agencies’ websites and on a policy analysis on 24h-care in Austria as well as on interviews with experts of the field. The paper focuses on how agencies shape working conditions of migrant carers as well as the domestic care market, which is understood in its entirety as both a labor and a service market. In addition, we analyze the agencies’ role in the establishment and implementation of this transnational home care market as well as their addressing of potentially contradicting expectations of good care and/or good work. Preliminary results indicate that agencies negate the needs of care givers while highlighting the advantages the Austrian 24h-care-model possesses for care receivers and their relatives, mainly its flexibility and relatively low costs. By focusing on care receivers’ requirements and expectations of decent care, agencies establish a power imbalance that is unique on Austria’s labor market. With these insights from the Viennese home care market, the paper sheds light on how agencies shape the structures and outcomes of domestic care markets and the conditions transnationally moving care workers are offered on these markets.

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