Veronika Prieler works as a postdoctoral researcher within the ERC Project Relocare: Relocating Care within Europe: Moving the elderly to places where care is more affordable, led by Kristine Krause.
For the last four years, she worked at the Institute for Sociology at the Johannes Kepler University Linz/Austria.
There, she was a member of the research project Decent Care Work? Transnational Home Care Arrangements which studied migrant live-in workers from Central Eastern European countries caring for Austrian elderly people in their private households. In this context, she also did her PhD on subjectivation and ethnicization processes in Austrian live-in care.
Her research interests include social policy, welfare state transformatios, care, and migration with a special focus on the role of intermediary agents.
ERC Project Relocare: Relocating Care within Europe: Moving the elderly to places where care is more affordable (2021-2026)
Within care studies, the transnationalization of care has been mainly understood as drawing on (female) migrant care workers and resulting in a ‘care gap’ in the places such workers leave behind. This project looks at the reverse phenomenon: care relocation, in which the ageing body is relocated to places where care is more affordable. This hotly contested trend, described as ‘grandmother deportation’ or ‘geriatric colonialism’, can be seen as an extreme example of the marketization of care, and entangling welfare states as entitlements are carried across national borders within Europe.
This multi-sited anthropological study will take as case studies care homes in Central Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) that recruit patients from Austria and Germany, and offer care at roughly one-third of the cost of similar institutions in the home countries. What does care relocation do to the people and places involved? Most of these care homes are located in regions characterized by a long German and Habsburg-Hungarian history, adding historical complexity to the story. Some serve only German-speaking patients, others serve local, wealthier elderly people as well. They are run by former migrant care workers and by international companies, bringing labour migration and real estate investment into the picture.
ReloCare breaks new ground by encompassing all of these aspects in one study. Alongside in-depth ethnographic studies of daily life in these care homes, the researchers will investigate the nexus of care entrepreneurs and state insurances, and the histories of places and regional migration, providing an understanding of these new transnational entanglements of welfare states. In perceiving care relocation as both part of future making and a response to the privatization of care landscapes in the region, it asks what it means to become old and in need of care in an increasingly intertwined Europe.
Principal Investigator: Kristine Krause
Postdoctoral Researcher: Veronika Prieler
PhD Researchers: Matouš Jelínek, Mariusz Rafał Sapieha
Assistant: Arianna Injeian
Team Coach: Silke Hoppe