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Katharina Knaus


Center for Metropolitan Studies
TU Berlin
Hardenbergstraße 16-18
10623 Berlin  


HOME FOR RENT: A Study on the Practices of Hosting on Airbnb in New York City

Investigating dwelling and home from a sociological perspective means looking at changing practices in particular social settings and times – and asking why these changes occurred. (Häussermann/ Siebel, 1996).

My dissertation focuses on one of these recent changes, which is particularly pronounced in the urban realm: renting out the home on Airbnb. Especially in cities with scarce affordable living space and sky rocketing rents, such as New York City, the popularity of Airbnb gained momentum. This has triggered controversial political debates – foremost concerning the negative effect on housing availability and rent prices, as well as debates concerning the increasing touristification of urban residential neighborhoods and gentrification.

Embedded in these controversies, my research intends to contribute a sociological perspective and asks how hosting on Airbnb changes practices of dwelling and the notion of home in the context of New York City. A central aim of my dissertation is to look at the role the platform Airbnb plays in creating a certain image of home, in the way hosts and guests come together as well as to ask in what way hosting can be understood as work.

I follow the hypothesis that in order to convey local services online platforms integrate (intimate) spatialities, temporalities and practices into their chain of value production. In the case of Airbnb this becomes especially interesting when talking about the notion of home and looking at how spheres of production and reproduction are increasingly blurred.

To investigate my research questions, I am conducting a case specific study of the practice of hosting in New York City and am focusing on hosts who are actively and regularly renting out their living space. A particular attention is thereby paid to the role of gender, age and living constellation. The interest in conducting this study in New York City is due to the fact that New York is one of Airbnb’s largest markets and has an extremely dense amount of Airbnb listings that show high availability.

The contribution of my project lies in the provision of a conceptualization of a host's experience with Airbnb and how this affects the notion of dwelling and home. This work will overall add to the growing literature on the platform economy and how it shapes practices, spatialities and temporalities in the urban sphere.



March 2019
Defense Doctoral Thesis "Selling the Short Term Home - A Study on the Practices of Hosting on Airbnb in New York City", Advisors: Prof. Dr. Sybille Frank, Prof. Dr. Dorothee Brantz, Prof. Dr. Annika Hinze, Grade: Summa Cum Laude

2015 - 2018
DFG Fellow at the International Graduate Research Program Berlin – New York – Toronto, Center for Metropolitan Studies Berlin

2012 – 2015
Historical Urban Studies, Technical University Berlin; Master

2007 – 2010
Media & Communication, Goldsmiths College – University of London; Bachelor


Graduate Student Coordinator at the international symposium “Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City”, Center for Metropolitan Studies Berlin (Organized by: Dr. Claire Colomb & Dr. Johannes Novy)

2010 –2012
Head of Communications/ Editor, Independent Collectors Berlin

Project and Research Assistant, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin

Project Assistant for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany Embassy London

2007 – 2010
Academic Project Assistant/ Course Representative, BA Media Studies with Digital Content Creation, Goldsmiths College – University of London


Illner, P./ Knaus, K. Beyond Community and Sharing: The Case of Airbnb in New York City        in Hinze, A./ Kantor, P. (eds.) American Urban Politics in a Global Age: The Reader. London: Routledge (Forthcoming 2018).

“At Home with Guests – Discussing Hosting on Airbnb through the Lens of Labour”. Applied Mobilities, 4 September 2018, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/23800127.2018.1504600

Visionen zur Gartenstadt Falkenberg & Siedlungen der Weimarer Republik in Berlin, in: Sigel, Paul (Hg.), Von der Reformbewegung zum Welterbe. Die Berliner Stadtsiedlungen Gartenstadt Falkenberg und Schillerpark. Ein Panorama zum 100-jährigen Bestehen der Gartenstadt Falkenberg, Berlin 2013. 


Peer to Peer Workshop Presentation and Coaching for Doctoral Students at TU Darmstadt, 13.07.2020

Workshop Zukunftsfähige Digitalisierung (together with Germanwatch), Feel Festival, Bergheider See, Brandenburg, 12.07.2019

Workshop Presentation, "Airbnb in New York City", Workshop: Kiez in der Tourismusfalle, TU Berlin, 15.03.2019

Peer to Peer Workshop Presentation and Coaching for Doctoral Students at TU Darmstadt, 30.11.2018

Talk: "The Urban Micro Entrepreneur at Home. Discussing Practices of Hosting through the Lense of Labor" 
Workshop: Short -Term Tourism Rentals: Observations, Regulation and Labor Reconfigurations, Paris Pantheon-Sorbonne, 15 March, 2018

Panel Convener: "Work and Cities: Debating New Forms of Work and Employment and Work Organization in Cities"
Conference: RC21, Leeds, 11-13 September, 2017

05/ 2017
Conference Organizer, Moderator & Talk: “Welcome Home: Analyzing Practices of Hosting on Airbnb in New York City”
Conference: Touristified Everyday Life – Mundane Tourism: Current Perspectives on Urban Tourism, Berlin, 11-12 May, 2017    

04/ 2017
Talk: “The Airbnb Home Configurations, Investments and Inhabitation”
Conference: AAG, Boston, 5-9 April, 2017  

10/ 2016
Panel Organizer, Moderator, Discussant: “Threatened Hospitality/ Threatening Hostility”
Conference: UrbanTOPIAS, IGK 5th Annual Conference, Berlin,
27-29 October, 2016

07/ 2016
Talk: “Framing Hospitality: Airbnb’s Influence on Practices of Hosting in New York City”
Conference: Critical Hospitality Studies Symposium: A Multi-Disciplinary Affair, Napier University, Edinburgh UK, 28-29 July, 2016


New York City/ USA
(Field Research)

New York City/ USA
(Initial Field Research; Interviews)

Zusatzinformationen / Extras


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