Mini-Conference at the Annual Conference for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)
Location: Berkeley, University of California
Date: June 24-26, 2016
Mini-conference organisers: Francesca Forno, Paolo R. Graziano, Lara Monticelli, and Torsten Geelan
Extended abstract: approx. 1000 words to be submitted through the SASE website, clearly stating that you wish to be considered for this mini-conference.
Expected output: edited collection or special issue
Extra-conference activity: visiting/dining at a local co-operative/eco-village (tbc)
Any questions: email (miniconf13.sase[at]gmail.com)
Call for Papers (extended version attached –SASE 2016_Mini Conference Call for Papers ):
The recent and yet unresolved Great Recession has revealed all the limitations and flaws of the ‘economic moralities’ embedded in neoliberalism which have been guiding the functioning of economic and political institutions in numerous countries. In tandem with the rise of new social movements and the success of radical political parties, every day economic practices of production and consumption are also being questioned and challenged by a growing number of ‘critical’ citizens.
These attempts often take the form of local, horizontal and collaborative initiatives such as consumer-producer networks, cooperatives, ethical banking, co-working spaces, and the like.
All these practices share a steadfast belief in the idea of ‘social sustainability’, and a desire to move towards a society which promotes not just environmentalism but also values of equality, diversity, and social cohesion. Such economic practices and ideas have the potential to gradually disrupt the economic moralities underlying many capitalist modes of production and the ways in which we consume goods and services.
This Mini Conference welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions from around the world and across the social sciences (sociology, political science, development studies, economics, anthropology, business, and philosophy) that touch on the following three themes:
1) New Modes of Production
The social economy refers to economic activity that is directly organized and controlled through the exercise of some form of social power – rooted in the voluntary association of people in civil society, and based on the capacity to organize people for collective action of various sorts.
Nestled between the private sector (business) and the public sector (Government), this includes worker-owned cooperatives, social enterprises, charities, and non-profit organisations.
The range of economic activities that can be organized through the social economy is very broad and includes recycling, childcare, housing, healthcare, disaster relief and web applications. The vibrancy and effectivness of which can be enhanced through institutional design, such as state subsidies, social economy investment funds (e.g. crowdfunding), governance through associational democracy, and participatory democratic forms of organisation.
This stream welcomes contributions that:
o Critique existing modes of production in the social economy;
o Provide empirical examples and theoretical accounts of how the social economy could be further enhanced through institutional design;
o Identify and explore cases of organizing economic activity through the social economy in hitherto unexamined countries, economic sectors, and geographical levels (local, regional, national, and supranational).
2) Critical Consumption
Over the past years, new social movements (Sustainable Community Movement Organizations) have emerged, going beyond more traditional forms of mobilization and of contentious politics. SCMOs are focused on exploiting alternative forms of consumption as a political tool: organizations and movements such as solidarity-based exchanges and networks, new consumer-producer cooperatives, barter groups, urban gardening, time banks, local savings groups and fair trade, are all examples of SCMOs, which have gained increasing relevance globally. The crisis has provided further space for such organizations, which have helped – and are still helping – to build new social relationships and resistance in a context of radical revision of the function of the market.
The growth in the number of ‘political consumers’ has generated considerable scholarly interest. Many of the studies on the topic, however, have analyzed this phenomenon mainly from the individual consumer perspective while less attention has been paid to the role of social movements promoting collective political actions.
This strand welcomes contributions discussing theoretical challenges posed by SCMOs and/or empirical illustrations in both the Global North and the Global South. We are particularly interested in papers that investigate:
o Why, how and whether Sustainable Community Movement Organizations emerge and succeed in triggering sustained political engagement;
o To what extent and how are SCMOs linked to specific movements such as the global justice movement and the indignados movement etc.;
o Where, and in what form, are grassroots economic initiative emerging and engaging the public;
o How can developments in political consumerism, and critiques thereof, inform the development of social movement research and vice versa;
o What is the effectiveness of such organizations in local, national and international political contexts.
3) Alternative Lifestyles
In our final stream we will discuss theoretical and empirical (academic and/or activist based) research on all those, increasingly diffused, everyday practices that are based not (or not only) on monetary transactions but on trust, interchange and reciprocity. Examples range from daily ‘sharing economy’ practices – such as car sharing, couch-surfing, house swapping, co-working – to more radical and explicitly anti-capitalistic ones like eco-villages or intentional communities.
We welcome papers that address:
o The extent to which these practices constitute (or not) ‘coping mechanisms’ for socio-economic exclusion;
o The way through which these practices manage to provide not just material goods but services outside a ‘market’ logic;
o The extent to which these practices succeed (or fail) in introducing societal values and norms (reciprocity, exchange, mutual help) that are an alternative to neoliberal ideology, and help foster a ‘new imaginary’ for progressive social change.