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The Social Economy

The Social Economy

Ash Amin


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Book Details


As the current economic crisis spreads around the globe questions are being asked about what king of capitalist or post-capitalist economy will follow. There is increasing talk of the need for stringent economic regulation, the need to temper greed and individualism, to make the economy work for human and social development. The search is on for a kinder, greener, less unequal and more redistributive economy. This transitional moment, with its pointed questions about the economy to come, provides an opportunity to assess the role and potential of the 'social economy', that is, economic activity in between market and state oriented towards meeting social needs. Until a decade ago, the term was used mainly by the fringe to describe the 'alternative economy'. Typically, organisations providing affordable child-care to low-wage families in a poor neighbourhood, or those making goods from recycled materials for low-income households, were considered to be residual or marginal to a mainstream dominated by markets and states. In the last decade, expectation in both the developed and developing world has changed in quite radical ways. Mainstream opinion is starting to see the social economy as a source of building social capabilities as well as developing new markets in welfare provision. Policymakers around the world have begun to support the social economy, and increasingly on business grounds, jostling with traditional interest on the fringe in the sector as a moral and social alternative to the capitalist economy. It is precisely this emerging but disputed centrality of the social economy that makes this book so timely. The book positions the social economy conceptually and normatively with the help of case evidence from a number of developed and developing countries. Uniquely, it brings together in English the work of leading scholars of the social economy who are also actively engaged in national and international policy formulation. Although it argues a case for seeing the social economy as distinctive from the state and market in terms of aims, values, and actors, it also notes many overlaps and complementarities once the economy is conceptualised as a plural entity responding to needs in diverse organisational combinations. The book also shows that expectations - social and economic - cannot be divorced from local institutional and historical circumstances and legacies. Accordingly, while certain generic policy principles can be shared internationally, interventions on the ground cannot ignore the demands of situated practice and legacy.
'This valuable collection of studies on the Social Economy makes a notable contribution to understanding about a developing mode of production in different parts of the world, representing a new way to those fighting for a society in which liberty and equality are not in contradiction to each other.' Paul Singer, Secretary of State for the Solidarity Economy, Brazil 'At a time of deep global economic crisis, there is a pressing need to explore alternatives to the mainstream capitalist economy in the search for sustainable futures, This is therefore a timely and important book. The contributors, a mix of leading academic researchers and activists, explore the achievements and potential of the social economy in a diverse range of places. They demonstrate that the social economy can provide socially useful work and goods and services of a quality that compares favourably with that of the state and private sector and discuss the policy challenges posed by seeking to develop the social economy.' Ray Hudson, Durham University 'The economic crisis has accelerated the search for real alternatives to market fundamentalism. One key alternative is the creation of a social or solidarity economy based on not-for-profit enterprises. This invaluable book provides an up-to-date account of the strengths and weaknesses of these initiatives across four continents.' Fred Block, University of California
Ash Amin, FBA is Professor of Geography and Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University. He has led research on the social economy for over a decade, focusing on conceptualisation, local variations, and grounded social experience. This work has been funded by the European Commission and by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. His recent books include Cities (2002), Placing the Social Economy (2002), Architectures of Knowledge (2004), The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader (2005), Community, Economic Creativity and Organisation, (2008), Thinking about Almost Everything (2009).

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
List of figures, tables and boxes vii
Figures\r vii
Acknowledgements ix
Part I: Conceptual dilemmas 1
1 Locating the social economy 3
Market, state and social economy 6
Situated practice 11
Building the social economy 15
References 20
2 Social economy: engaging as a third system? 22
The fundamental principles 22
A modern mixed economy of three systems 25
Figure 2.1 Three systems of the economy 26
From community to social economy – a significant shift? 29
Why do people do social enterprise? 30
Practical politics 31
Notes 33
References 33
Part II: International evidence 35
3 Building community economies in Massachusetts: an emerging model of economic development? 37
Nuestras Raíces 38
Alliance to Develop Power 41
Building community economies as a practice of economic development 45
Table 3.1 A diverse economy 46
The ethical dynamics of development at Nuestras Raíces and the ADP 50
Principles and practices of ethical dynamism 54
Returning to the social economy 62
Notes 64
References 65
4 Working for social enterprises: does it make a difference? 66
The state of current research 68
The emergence of social co-operatives in Italy 71
Working for social co-operatives in Italy 74
Characteristics of workers and processes of selection 75
Motivations 76
Table 4.1 Job evaluation factors 77
Table 4.2 Motivations for choosing a social co-operative 78
Contracts 78
Salaries and perception of fairness 79
Table 4.3 Average salaries 79
Table 4.4 Distributive fairness 80
Table 4.5 Procedural fairness 81
Job satisfaction 81
Table 4.6 Satisfaction with different aspects of the job 82
Table 4.7 The determinants of average satisfaction in social co-operatives 83
Loyalty and behaviour 84
Table 4.8 Loyalty to the organization 85
Table 4.9 The determinants of loyalty in social co-operatives today 86
Conclusions 87
Notes 89
References 89
5 Experimenting with economic possibilities: ethical economic decision-making in two Australian community enterprises 92
Community enterprises in the Australian context 93
Learning by doing 96
Ethical economic decision-making 101
Diverse economic practices 107
Table 5.1 The diverse economy of Sustainable Gardening Services 109
Figure 5.1 The diverse economy: networks of Sustainable Gardening Services 111
Conclusion 113
Notes 114
References 114
6 Building community-based social enterprises in the Philippines: diverse development pathways 116
NGO-facilitated social enterprise development 119
Grassroots social enterprise development 127
Conclusion 135
Notes 137
References 138
7 A path to the social economy in Argentina: worker takeovers of bankrupt companies 139
Motivations and meanings 141
A moral economy? 144
Subjectivity, time–space and the assembly line 146
Synthesis 150
Conclusion 152
Notes 154
References 154
Part III: Policy challenges 157
8 Organizing for the solidarity economy in south Brazil 159
The solidarity economy in Brazil 161
Incubators of the solidarity economy 163
Solidarity economy in the far south of Brazil 165
Conclusion 172
Notes 174
References 174
9 The three pillars of the social economy: the Quebec experience 176
Quebec: From stories to a conceptual framework 176
Figure 9.1 The social economy: a typology 181
The contours of the social economy in Quebec 182
Chantier de l’économie sociale: network of networks 185
Box 9.1 The social economy definition adopted by the Chantier de l’économie sociale 186
Box 9.2 Chantier de l’économie sociale Board of Directors 188
Box 9.3 The social economy in Quebec 190
The social economy in Quebec: an integrated system of social innovation 191
Capacity-generation through horizontal and vertical links 191
Figure 9.2 Chantier de l’économie sociale 192
Figure 9.3 Integrated systems of social innovation 193
Illustrations of initiatives and innovations 194
Box 9.4 Homecare social economy enterprises 194
Solidarity finance 195
Box 9.5 The Fiducie du Chantier de l’économie sociale: investment products for social economy enterprises 197
Table 9.1 Investment in the social economy since 1996 198
Boxes vii
New initiatives: the arts in Montreal 199
Box 9.6 La Tohu 200
Research partnerships 201
Conclusion 203
Notes 203
References 206
10 Social economy and development in Poland 208
General and historical background 209
Figure 10.1 Number of associations and foundations per capita in Polish regions 210
Figure 10.2 Organizations performing business activity per capita in Polish regions 211
Placing the social economy 212
The social economy in Poland 216
Figure 10.3 Percentage of individuals who trust other people 216
Figure 10.4 Average number of organizations to which respondents belong 217
Table 10.1 Basic data on social economy organizations in Poland 219
Supporting the social economy 221
Conclusion 228
Notes 229
References 230
11 Supporting the social and solidarity economy in the European Union 232
Box 11.1 The European Commission’s new services typology 233
New services, new needs, new modes 234
Founding the local social economy 236
Box 11.2 The founders of Le Gueulard (France) 237
Box 11.3 The founder of Kinderbüro (Germany) 239
Box 11.4 Legal recognition of social welfare co-operatives (Italy) 241
From local initiatives to social and solidarity economy 241
Figure 11.1 Local initiatives: from emergence to institutionalization 242
Tables\r vii
Policy recommendations 244
Box 11.5 The significance and limitations of social policy unemployment programmes 245
Box 11.6 From network to public policies: France’s solidarity economy 250
Box 11.7 Collective agreement covering workers in Italian social co-operatives 251
References 252
Index 258
Notes on contributors 253