ECA: Social and Solidarity Economy and Participation

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A policy proposal by Ana Margarida Fernandes Esteves, Ruby van der Wekken, Sunna Kovanen and Jason Nardi for the European Commons Assembly. [1]

Farmers market.jpg

Background

Economic globalization and the growing financialization of productive activity has led to a growing concentration of production and commercialization in large transnational conglomerates. This resulted in the highest levels of unemployment, social exclusion and de-skilling since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Two emerging social movements - The Commons and Social and Solidarity Economy - have been integrating the knowledge accumulated by the Global Justice movement of the 1990's and 2000's in the development of (g)local responses to these trends. This includes the defense and/or promotion of urban, rural and internet commons for the purpose of promotion of economic and environmental justice, community-building and neighborhood, town and rural revitalization. It also includes the promotion of grassroots, cooperative forms of production, finance, commercialization and usage of the commons.

The promotion of a Social and Solidarity Economy is considered by Lewis and Conaty (2012) to be a fundamental condition for the sustainability of the Commons. Social and Solidarity economy is a set of practices and institutions that support the creation of cooperative, democratic and inclusive commons and the commoning around them. It also supports the transition from an extractivist and accumulative value regime to a generative value regime (Bauwens, 2016). Therefore, it is fundamental to promote not only collaboration, but also convergence between these two movements.

The Problem

There is ample evidence, both from academia as well as from social movements and social and solidarity economy practitioners, which suggests that the lack of regulatory mechanisms which support commons-oriented projects, as well as social and solidarity economy practices and organizations undermines not only the sustainability of these two types of initiatives, but also the possibility for an effective and sustainable collaboration between these two movements.

European Regional Policy and international trade policies hinder strongly the development of social and solidarity economies in Europe. The first mentioned are based on the idea of global economic competition between the regions. This puts the emphasis of regional policy on a few, international competitive companies and solutions commercializable in the markets, although in the light of prominent economical visions regions should more likely adapt to slow- or zero growth in the future and strengthen regional social and solidarity economies: i.e. local resilience as well as non-competitive, long term sustainable economical exchange between european regions and regions globally. Therefore social and solidarity economy should be taken stronger into the agenda of european regional and international development, trade policies and Europe 2020 Strategy and its funding programms.

Proposal:

To draft policy and regulation recommendations which address the following topics:

  • The legal and financial support to grassroots, community-controled institutional forms and practices of cooperative/decommodified production, finance, commercialization and participation in the commons;
  • Draft funding programms for network-type organizations with small budgets and outcomes that do not require high investment

Include the above mentioned target into regional policies and funding programms. Understand local resilience and subsistence production as a a part of a regional development and social economy programms in parallel with economical spezialization for international competition.

  • The centrality of gender, spatial and environmental justice in these practices.
  • The centrality of cognitive justice in these practices, namely in the integration of technical and "local" tacit knowledge in a way that recognizes and promotes cultural and epistemological diversity and dialogue.

Lead image: “Union South Farmer's Market” by Patrick Khul is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  1. See https://Europeancommonsassembly.eu/, our entry on the European Commons Assembly or visit our [European Commons Assembly: The Policy Papers] section for other policy papers produced by the Assembly.