Karlsruhe’s ‘giving fences’: mobilisation for the needy in times of COVID-19

July 13, 2020

CPS researcher Michael Zeller published a movement report in the Solidarity and mutual aid section of the latest issue of Interface - a journal for and about social movements.


Protective measures against the spread of COVID-19 have placed strains on many segments of society, but perhaps homeless and impoverished people most of all. In Karlruhe (Germany), a form of collective action has emerged to help provide for needy individuals while their normal support structures are unavailable: 'giving fences.' This article reviews this practice and considers its qualities and defects. The giving fences are a promising example of solidary collective action, providing considerable advantages to participants and beneficiaries. Its shortcomings, however, emphasise the importance of resuming institutionalised social service provision as soon as emergency conditions are relaxed.

Keywords: COVID-19; homelessness; collective action; expectancy-value theory; digital mobilisation; solidarity

The report is available online on the Interface website here.