Community Economies

Key ideas

 

Other economies are possible

We are interested in an economic politics that allows us to think creatively and to start here and now to make new economies. We believe that other, more just and ecologically sustainable, economies are possible. Everyday people in everyday places can be part of re-thinking and re-enacting economies.

 

Words make worlds

How we imagine, frame and talk about our economy influences how we act. Contemporary economic politics confronts the economy as a bounded object separated from other social processes. This representation informs modes of accounting value and influences how economies are materialized through practices and organizations. In order to remake the economy we need different representations and framings that enable new modes of calculation and materialization.

 

The ice-berg image

The iceberg is one way of illustrating that what is usually regarded as ‘the economy’ (i.e. wage labour, market exchange of commodities and capitalist enterprise) is but a small set of activities by which we produce, exchange and distribute values in our society. This image places the reputation of economics as a comprehensive and scientific body of knowledge under critical scrutiny for its a narrow focus and mystifying effects. The iceberg opens up a conversation about the economy, honouring our common knowledge of the multifarious ways in which all of us are engaged in producing, transacting and distributing values in this hidden underwater field, as well as out in the air. 

 

Capitalocentrism

This term refers to the dominant representation of all economic activities in terms of their relationship to capitalism—as the same as, the opposite to, a complement of, or contained within capitalism. Our attempts to destabilize the hegemony of capitalocentrism have included a number of theoretical strategies:

1) production of different representations of economic identity, and

2) development of different narratives of economic development.

 

Deconstruction of ‘capitalism’

A representation of the ECONOMY as essentially CAPITALIST is dependent on the exclusion of many types of economic activities that transact, remunerate, appropriate and distribute and that do so according to multiple registers of value. The ‘excluded others’ upon which the seeming coherence of capitalism is based include a range of activities that have been the subject of inquiry by non-economists or non-mainstream economists.

Diagram of the diverse economic practices that fall outside of capitalism

 

Diverse economies

The diverse economy framework is one way of representing the radical diversity of economic relations that make up our world. The framework is always developing, it is not attempting to be comprehensive. What we have represented is various lists organized in columns that denote certain economic processes. There is no implied horizontal relationship across rows.  

Table outlining the varies diverse economies

Note: The items in each cell are only examples of what could be included.

 

Community economies

The community economy is a normative representation of the diverse economy, one in which certain ethics are valued over others. In a community economy our interdependence with each other and with all earth others is recognized and respected as we negotiate:

  • what is necessary to personal, social and ecological survival
  • how social surplus is appropriated and distributed
  • whether and  how social surplus is to be produced and consumed
  • how a commons is produced and sustained