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In libreria

Sustainable Community Movement Organizations

edited by Francesca Forno, Richard R. Weiner

28 aprile 2020
Versione stampabile

This volume shines a light on Sustainable Community Movement Organizations (SCMOs), an emergent wave of non-hierarchical, community-based socio-economic movements, with alternative forms of consumption and production very much at their core.

Extending beyond traditional ideas of cooperatives and mutualities, the essays in this collection explore new geographies of solidarity practices ranging from forms of horizontal democracy to interurban and transnational networks. The authors uniquely frame these movements within the Deleuzian concept of the ‘rhizome’, as a meshwork of alternative spaces, paths and trajectories. This connectivity is illustrated in case studies from around the world, ranging from protest movements in response to austerity measures in Southern Europe, to the Buen Vivir movement in the Andes, and Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) in the Caribbean and Canada. Positioning these cases in relation to current theoretical debates on Social Solidarity Economy, the authors specifically address the question of the persistence and the durability of the organizing practices in community economies.

This book will be a valuable tool for academics and students of sustainable consumption, environmental policy, social policy, environmental economics, environmental management and sustainability studies more broadly.

Francesca Forno is associate professor at the University of Trento, Department of Sociology and social research
Richard R. Weiner is professor of political science at Rhode Island College

From Introduction (pag.1-3)

Throughout the last decades, and particularly since the end of the Cold War and the spread of neoliberal capitalism, the global political space has profoundly changed. Shared disillusionment with traditional institutional politics has implied a retreat from its codified spaces; struggles for emancipation take place mostly through the informal constitution of groups that challenge traditional categories of political participation (e.g., left and right, class identities). Moreover, and not surprisingly, giving the market’s increasing importance in shaping the (everyday) worlds of people across the globe, these movements move “from the streets to the market” – more and more often enacting politics through consumption (e.g., boycott, buycott platforms and apps, alternative/sustainable lifestyles). Furthermore, against a patterning of action that tended to verticalization and centralization in bureaucratic institutions, emphasis is given on decentralization, self-organization in non-hierarchical groupings and the creation of horizontal alliances of potentially global reach among local groups who further similar interests: they have a “glocal” dimension. 

This anthology weaves together a coherent series of contributions and case studies on emergent social-economic forms of alternative organizing. These forms try to constitute autonomous normative ordering based on mutual regulating social-economic networks whose constitutive provenance lies in heterarchical multi-stakeholder social pact-ing. As such, they are both embedded social insertion and embodied responsibility of pooling common resources. These forms by following along the theoretical lines detailed by Elinor Ostrom (1990), may also be interpreted as inter-connectedness of reciprocal solidarity and endogenous trust for common resource stewardship. […]

Within recent debate on collective action and various forms of activism, the concept of Sustainable Community Movement Organizations (hereafter SCMOs) has been proposed to indicate grassroots efforts to build alternative, productive, and sustainable networks of production and exchange by mobilizing citizens primarily (though not solely) via their purchasing power (Forno and Graziano, 2014). By acting primarily on the market, such grassroots initiatives attempt to create new economic and cultural spaces for civic learning as well as consumerism and producerism actions (Andretta and Guidi, 2017) that aim to construct and sustain alternative markets based on knowledge exchange, loyalty, and trust. […]

SCMOs often include experiences of mutualism, such as in projects of welfare from below, consumer-producer networks and cooperatives, Alternative Food Networks, urban agriculture/urban gardening, barter groups, time banks, recovered factories, local savings groups/alternative currencies, fair trade, ecovillages, and social and solidarity economy networks. These initiatives address at once ecology (climate change, resource depletion, reduced biodiversity, diminishing land fertility, diminishing wildlife, etc.); economy (reduced family’s income and purchase power, unemployment, increasing difficulties for small enterprises to keep afloat in the face of increasingly powerful and oligopolistic multinationals); society-culture (insecurity and unsafety, polarization of life opportunities, diminishing happiness and well-being, spreading of so-called psychological discomfort) in their being interconnected and co-emerging aspects of the same system.

Instead of appealing to formal (local, national, international) institutions by lobbying and/or putting pressure so as to make them change their political decisions, SCMOs act locally by ongoingly building concrete alternatives to the system they are contesting. Instead of asking for change they produce the change itself in the form of alternative ways of socio-ecological and economic organization, establishing novel material and cultural-symbolic patterns. […]

SCMOs are the bedrock within the so-called Social Solidarity Economy (SSE), which is a term increasingly being used to refer to a broad range of organizations that are distinguished from conventional for-profit enterprise, entrepreneurship, and informal economy as they have explicit economic, social, and environmental objectives (Utting, 2014). All those myriad of experiences include cooperatives, mutual associations, NGOs engaged in income generating activities, women’s self-help groups, community forestry and other organizations, associations of informal sector workers, social enterprise, and fair trade organizations and networks. Such movement organizations are understood as the basis of: 

• a sustainable governance, and
 • generative social entrepreneurship of stakeholders co-creating value by a confederated communing connected to networks.

Courtesy by Routledge