methodology + how to

If you are wondering about the scope and process we're proposing, and/or thinking you may like to contribute an example, check this page as well as our research questions.

Terrain and scope

We focus on examples of initiatives that
  • concern care, reproduction or mutual aid
  • are engaged in broader struggle around these fields (not isolated)
  • are useful for envisaging other modes of economy, of living and working together.
The three areas of activity we are concerned with are
  • collective organisations of care: child-, elderly-, and health care (physical and mental)
  • food: production, preparation and distribution
  • housing: forms of squatting, co-ownership and shared renting.
We look at examples through three temporal lenses:
  • short term (mutual aid)
  • medium term (sustained self-organisation)
  • long-term (institutions of the commons).
The examples we look at will involve practices
  • of groups
  • of networks
  • and of legally framed (self-owning) institutions such as cooperatives or foundations.


This is an open project and will base itself on monthly meetings where 1-2 persons present a case study of their choice and we discuss. In finding examples, we want to ask:

What is the composition of participants in this initiative, and who does it address? 
What is the historical moment and local context this emerges from? 
What were the conditions of possibility for this initiative to exist? 
Who learns and who gains? 
How do participants narrate this experience and represent it? 
What is the relation of this initiative to the state (funding, law)? 
What networks does this initiative sit within? 
Whose support does it count on? 
On what temporality is it conceived, what happens when it stops (to the people and the work)? 
How is it organised internally - how are decisions made, resources used, finances managed, meetings conducted, etc? 
Who does it pose a problem to, with what intention? 
What kinds of bodies and relations does its process produce? Etc.

Case studies will be uploaded to this online toolbox. They can be formatted variously, but should always entail:
  • a description of the initiative according to the questions above 
  • attempts at responding to our research questions (see page of same name)
  • audiovisual material – documentaries, interviews, movies, etc – as found online or in archives, or also made by ourselves 
  • a 10-step checklist for setting up a similar initiative: let's create practical knowledge!

Examples may include: the free breakfast of the Black Panthers; the mutual aid of Occupy Sandy; the pay-as-you-wish restaurand Wiener Deewan; the Community Health Centre of San Fransisco Solano; peoples kitchens – in crisis Greece as well as in 30s Europe; community supported agriculture at Ochsenherz Farm near Vienna; the mutual aid of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca in Spain; the GAS network in Italy where community-based shopping from local producers is organised; the Icarus project for mutual aid and mental health support; initiatives from within historical womens movements, such as creches or healthcare; self-valorising institutions of the early workers movement; etc. 
This process will be based in Vienna, with some international guests lined up to share examples. Sessions will rotate between different spaces.

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