This is some of the input for the talk.
- Definition of "Social and Solidarity Economy"
- Fair trade between countries
- Fair trade between producers and consumers
- Cooperatives (Genossenschaften)
- As cooperative companies
- As consumer cooperatives
- Role of trade unions
- State companies under democratic control
- Self-governed companies
Solidarity economy happens where not the profit but the concrete use for the participants determines
- what is produced,
- how it is produced,
- and how goods and services are exchanged
—Elisabeth Voss, Contraste 2009-02
Solidarische Ökonomie ist ein Sammelbegriff für Formen des Wirtschaftens, die sich an sozialen, demokratischen oder ökologischen Zielsetzungen orientieren. Vor allem in Europa und Lateinamerika existieren Modelle und Konzepte der Beschäftigung, in denen Arbeit auf der Grundlage von solidarischer Ökonomie organisiert werden soll. Auch in Deutschland existieren Projekte, die solidarische Ökonomie praktizieren. Unter der Bezeichnung solidarische Ökonomie fallen differente theoretische und praktische Ansätze, die folgende Ziele gemeinsam haben:
- kritische Grundhaltung gegenüber neoliberalen wirtschafts- und gesellschaftspolitischen Ansätzen
- positive Bezugnahme auf den Begriff der Solidarität
- Rückbindung einer auf sich selbst bezogenen Ökonomie an soziale und ökologische Zusammenhänge.
Zu den Projekten solidarischer Ökonomie zählen beispielsweise selbstverwaltete Betriebe, alternative Tausch-, Umsonst- und Handelsnetzwerke, alternativer Wohnungsunternehmen und zunehmend soziale Unternehmen.
The Solidarity Economy is an alternative development framework that is grounded in practice and the in the principles of: solidarity, mutualism, and cooperation; equity in all dimensions (race/ethnicity/ nationality, class, gender, LGBTQ); social well-being over profit and the unfettered rule of the market; sustainability; social and economic democracy; and pluralism, allowing for different forms in different contexts, open to continual change and driven from the bottom-up.
The definition of "solidarity economy" is widely contested. For some, it refers to a set of strategies aimed at the abolition of capitalism and the allegedly oppressive social relations that it supports and encourages; for others, it names strategies for "humanizing" the capitalist economy - seeking to supplement capitalist globalization with community-based "social safety nets".
The solidarity economy can be seen
as part of the "third sector" in which economic activity is aimed at expressing practical solidarity with disadvantaged groups of people, which contrasts with the private sector, where economic activity is aimed at generating profits, and the public sector, where economic activity is directed at public policy objectives, or
as a struggle seeking to build an economy and culture of solidarity beyond capitalism in the present.
The still evolving term "solidarity economy" is an English translation of a concept represented by the French "économie solidaire" and similar terms in several other languages. As such it is sometimes translated by other expressions such as "solidarity-based economy".
This is the only transformative concept, it aims to establish productive and supportive activities between actors, especially in a region, that empower and enable as many players as possible to take over functions in an economic network of relations which could be monetary or nonmonetary.
Social economy refers to a third sector in economies between the private sector and business or, the public sector and government. It includes organisations such as cooperatives, non-governmental organisations and charities.
Economies may be considered to have three sectors:
the business private sector, which is privately owned and profit motivated;
the public sector which is owned by the state;
the social economy, that embraces a wide range of community, voluntary and not-for-profit activities.
Sometimes there is also reference to a fourth sector, the informal sector, where informal exchanges take place between family and friends.
The third sector can be broken down into three sub-sectors; the community sector, the voluntary sector and the social enterprise sector:
- The community sector includes those organisations active on a local or community level, usually small, modestly funded and largely dependent on voluntary, rather than paid, effort. Examples include neighbourhood watch, small community associations, civic societies, small support groups, etc.
- The UK's National Council for Voluntary Organisations describes the voluntary sector as including those organizations that are: formal (they have a constitution); independent of government and self-governing; not-for-profit and operate with a meaningful degree of volunteer involvement. Examples include housing associations, large charities, large community associations, national campaign organisations, etc.
- According to the UK government's definition, the social enterprise sector includes organisations which "are businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners". Examples include co-operatives, building societies, development trusts and credit unions.
The social economy spans economic activity in the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors. The economic activity, as with any other economic sector, includes: employment; financial transactions; the occupation of property; pensions; trading; etc.
The social economy usually develops because of a need to find new and innovative solutions to issues (whether they be socially, economically or environmentally based) and to satisfy the needs of members and users which have been ignored or inadequately fulfilled by the private or public sectors.
By using solutions to achieve not-for-profit aims, it is generally believed that the social economy has a distinct and valuable role to play in helping create a strong, sustainable, prosperous and inclusive society.
Successful social economy organisations can play an important role in helping deliver many key governmental policy objectives by:
- helping to drive up productivity and competitiveness;
- contributing to socially inclusive wealth creation;
- enabling individuals and communities to work towards regenerating their local neighbourhoods;
- showing new ways to deliver public services; and
- helping to develop an inclusive society and active citizenship.
The Social Enterprise Compass
The social enterprise compass is easily illustrated:
Primary objective of the enterprise
The horizontal axis
On the horizontal axis each enterprise / organisation is categorized by its ownership. On the left side the ownership lies with the public authorities whereas on the right side the ownership lies with private people. So the distinctive feature is the ownership of the enterprise.
Is it private? Def.: The term "private industry" contains all economic activity that deals with the capital of one or many private owners with a view to making profits. The capital owners bear the risk.
Or is it public? Def.: The term "public authorities" contains all economic activity where the public authorities possess the capital on either European, federal, regional or local level. That includes all nationalised and public industries.
The vertical axis
On the vertical axis, each enterprise / organisation is categorized by the primary objective of the enterprise. The dimensions range between social purpose on the top and commercial purpose at the bottom of the axis.
On the vertical axis an organisation reaches the top, i.e. the social purpose is the primary objective of the enterprise, if you fulfil the following criteria:
- A Ethical concept
(core definition for enterprises / organisations of the social economy)
This core definition is the ideal of an enterprise / organisation. Only these enterprises / organisations belong to the social economy whose ideal is a clearly defined ethical concept.
- B Mission
The primary objective of the enterprise is the improvement of the life situation and the chances of disadvantaged people as well as social cohesion and support.
- C Social economic creation of value and appropriation of earnings
(qualitative key identification)
The profits and the resources are verifiably reinvested for the benefit of disadvantaged people.
If the criteria A, B and C are totally fulfilled, an organisation can locate itself on top of the vertical axis.
There is one last criteria which is not definitional but a describing feature:
- D Intermediary function
Social economical enterprises / organisations have an intermediary function between public and private.
If none of the criteria above is fulfilled or the primary object of the enterprise is the commercial purpose then an enterprise / organisation is located on the bottom of the vertical axis.
Location between social and commercial purpose
If the criteria above are only partly fulfilled the enterprise is located between the top and the bottom of the vertical axis according to its self-definition.
SOCIAL ECONOMY: This refers to everything that adresses poverty and raises opportunity, many times its the term for the activities of NGOs performing activities of the social state and act as employers and service providers. Thats very much within the "state quota" of indirectly financed activities.
Personally, I also think, that social economy has only a very limited potential since most of the time, people understand former state-apparatuses in the field of social welfare - no privatized (being non-profit or profit) - as "social eonomy".
Solidarity economy on the other hand is of course the most promising approach of all I know. However, I think, that it's potentials only come really true, if it starts to produce commons.
However, I'd like to say a word about the solidarity economy definition. Personally, I think it's a dangerous illusion to think there is only one transformative concept.
In one hand, as Andreas said, its possible (and I would say, necessary) to cooperate with organizations and institutions that maybe from social economy or even social business. People who do social business are not the "bad guys" and we are not the "good guys" as well.
In the other hand, we must see that all of these proceses are the results of a historical and social condition and are limited by these conditions. That means its not a model that will be revealed for us by a genius mind. In Brazil and France, for instance, there are big differences not only in the context, but also in the concept.
So, in my point of view, the solidarity economy has a huge potential because it points to a political project (in which I believe and try to work for), that can only be developed if there are mechanisms of participation and collective taking of decisions, in a large sense, not only in restricted and isolate organizations or communities - once more I agree with Andreas by the necessity of production of commons, although its not still so clear to me when we get out of the informatic world.