Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability

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* Book: Scaling Up: The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability. Co-edited by Mike Gismondi, Mary Beckie et al. BALTA, 2015


Open access version of book available at The book will be available in print and e-book versions as well as for free via open access downloadable pdf’s of the book chapters.


"When citizens take collaborative action to meet the needs of their community, they are participating in the social economy. Co-operatives, community-based social services, local non-profit organizations, and charitable foundations are all examples of social economies that emphasize mutual benefit rather than the accumulation of profit. While such groups often participate in market-based activities to achieve their goals, they also pose an alternative to the capitalist market economy. Contributors to Scaling Up investigated innovative social economies in British Columbia and Alberta and discovered that achieving a social good through collective, grassroots enterprise resulted in a sustainable way of satisfying human needs that was also, by extension, environmentally responsible. As these case studies illustrate, organizations that are capable of harnessing the power of a social economy generally demonstrate a commitment to three outcomes: greater social justice, financial self-sufficiency, and environmental sustainability. Within the matrix of these three allied principles lie new strategic directions for the politics of sustainability.

Whether they were examining attainable and affordable housing initiatives, co-operative approaches to the provision of social services, local credit unions, farmers’ markets, or community-owned power companies, the contributors found social economies providing solutions based on reciprocity and an understanding of how parts function within the whole—an understanding that is essential to sustainability. In these locally defined and controlled, democratically operated organizations we see possibilities for a more human economy that is capable of transforming the very social and technical systems that make our current way of life unsustainable."


Introduction: Social Economics and Sustainability

Chapter 1 Towards Convergence: An Exploratory Framework ; Sean Connelly, Mike Gismondi, Sean Markey, and Mark Roseland

Chapter 2 The Green Social Economy in British Columbia and Alberta ; Mike Gismondi, Lynda Ross, and Juanita Marois

Chapter 3 The Role of the Social Economy in Scaling Up Alternative Food Initiatives ; Mary Beckie and Sean Connelly

Chapter 4 Human Services and the Caring Society ; John Restakis

Chapter 5 Towards Sustainable Resource Management: Community Energy and Forestry in British Columbia and Alberta ; Julie L. MacArthur

Chapter 6 Evolving Conceptions of the Social Economy: The Arts, Culture, and Tourism in Alert Bay ; Kelly Vodden, Lillian Hunt, and Randy Bell

Chapter 7 Non-Profit and Co-operative Organizations and the Provision of Social Housing ; George Penfold, Lauren Rethoret, and Terri MacDonald

Chapter 8 Land Tenure Innovations for Sustainable Communities ; Marena Brinkhurst and Mark Roseland

Chapter 9 Sustaining Social Democracy Through Heritage-Building Conservation ; Noel Keough, Mike Gismondi, and Erin Swift-Leppäkumpu

Chapter 10 Strong Institutions, Weak Strategies: Credit Unions and the Rural Social Economy ; Sean Markey, Freya Kristensen, and Stewart Perry

Conclusion: Social Economizing Sustainability ; Mike Gismondi, Sean Connelly, and Sean Markey