Introduction to the Solidarity Economy
= introductory essay to the Solidarity Economy
The solidarity economy framework emphasizes our relationships to other people and to our environment, and inserts solidaritous values into these relationships. Solidaritous values are cooperative, egalitarian, democratic, locally based, and sustainable.
"Julie Matthaei and Jenna Allard, http://www.ussen.org
Solidarity economy organizing provides the type of “middle-run,” transformative economic organizing which Immanuel Wallerstein advocates in his recent article in the Monthly Review (June 2008). The solidarity economy framework emphasizes our relationships to other people and to our environment, and inserts solidaritous values into these relationships. Solidaritous values are cooperative, egalitarian, democratic, locally based, and sustainable. Solidarity economy praxis strives for an economy based on human needs rather than an insatiable drive for profit. The ultimate aim of the solidarity economy is the breakdown of oppressive economic hierarchies of all types, the development of human potential, and the preservation of our communities and environment.
There are four distinct aspects to the interconnected and organic whole that is being conceptualized as “the solidarity economy” by a growing international movement of activists and academics. It is a collection of existing economic practices; a growing network of people and organizations engaged in these practices; a developing local and global movement that informs and advocates for these practices; and a theoretical framework for understanding and analyzing these practices. It can be a way of scaling up initiatives that work, of transcending political boundaries, and of challenging neoliberalism.
Solidarity economy practices and institutions are widespread in the contemporary U.S. Ignored or devalued by mainstream economists, these practices have the potential of building “another economy” block by block. Many are participating in them daily, be it by buying fair trade products, expressing their values through their work, or investing in a socially responsible way. Others are involved in collective solidarity economy efforts such as high road businesses, community economic development projects, localization projects, and many others. The next step, as we see it from our studies of other countries, is to visibilize and reconceptualize solidarity economy practices and institutions as part of an emergent new economic system, create supportive links among them, and build a movement to advocate for public policies to support them."