Community Economies

Community Economies

What are community economies?

How can they be strengthened or built?

The following papers present theoretical and practical approaches to these questions.

Anticapitalism or Postcapitalism? Both!

Ethan Miller

This commentary responds to papers by Jodi Dean and Stephen Healy in a special issue of Rethinking Marxism, proposing that one does not need to choose between being an anti-capitalist revolutionary attentive to the material power of capitalist colonization, or being a post-capitalist ethical subject, eschewing critique, and entirely disavowing capitalism and its forms of violence. Community economies theory can be significantly strengthened through increased engagement with two key domains of praxis that it has tended to avoid: militant cross-sector organizing and a non-totalizing critique of capital.

Economy as Ecological Livelihood

Ethan Miller, JK Gibson-Graham

This book chapter challenges the conventional separations between "economy" and "ecology," proposing instead a perspective of "ecological livelihoods" in which sustenance is understood as an always-collective process of ethical negotiation involving humans and myriad living others. Drawing on and modifying Gibson-Graham's previous work on "ethical coordinates," we suggest some glimmers of what an ethical economics in an acknowledged more-than-human world might look like.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and Ethan Miller. "Economy as Ecological Livelihood" in Katherine Gibson, Deborah Bird Rose, and Ruth Fincher (Eds). Manifesto for the Living in the Anthropocene. Brooklyn, NY: Puncum Books.

Realizing new economic futures, one community at a time

Since all communities face their own sets of unique challenges and assets, this report explores possibilities for new economic futures in the context of one particular community.  By contextualizing the discussion within broader economic and political realities, it also provides insights for other communities that are undergoing economic and social transitions and striving to do so in a sustainable and humane way.

Groundswell Post Conference Summary Report

On January 29th, 2014, a community conference called Groundswell brought community members together in order to “inspire creativity, ideas, and relationships that advance the wellbeing of our community.”  This report illuminates both the process of facilitating meaningful community engagement as well the outcomes of doing so. The report was written for the community in which the event took place, but the hope is that it also inspire similar efforts in other communities that are ready for a ‘groundswell’ of their own.

Seeing Diversity, Multiplying Possibility: My journey from post-feminism to postdevelopment with JK Gibson-Graham

Kelly Dombroski

As a graduate student I first came into contact with the work and persons of JK Gibson-Graham. As I was mentored and supervised by Katherine Gibson, the piece ‘Building Community Economies: Women and the Politics of Place’ became part of my journey into feminism and feminist postdevelopment research. In this chapter, I highlight three principles I have carried with me from that time until now: starting where you are, seeing diversity, and multiplying possibility. With reference to my own developing research interests, I show how Gibson-Graham’s work is relevant and inspiring in a third wave feminist context.

Dombroski, K. Forthcoming. Seeing Diversity, Multiplying Possibility: My journey from post-feminism to postdevelopment with JK Gibson-Graham. In W. Harcourt (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development. Palgrave.

Multiplying Possibilities: A postdevelopment approach to hygiene and sanitation

Kelly Dombroski

In water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) literature and interventions, it is common to class households with anything other than private toilets as ‘without sanitation’. This implies that the people who use forms of hygiene and sanitation relying on collective toilets and alternative strategies are somehow unhygienic. Yet residents of Xining (Qinghai Province, China) rely on hygiene assemblages that do not always include private toilets, but nonetheless still work to guard health for families with young children. In this paper, I develop a postdevelopment approach to hygiene and sanitation based on starting with the place-based hygiene realities already working to guard health in some way, then working to multiply possibilities for future sanitation and hygiene strategies. In this approach, contemporary and future realities may look quite different from those based on private toilets.

Dombroski, K. Forthcoming. 'Multiplying Possibilities: A posdevelopment approach to hygiene and sanitation in Northwest China. Submitted to Asia Pacific Viewpoint.

Economization and Beyond: (Re)composing Livelihoods in Maine, USA

Ethan Miller

This paper draws on interviews with economic development professionals in Maine (USA) to pursue two tasks: first, to explore the potentials and limits of Çalsikan and Callon's notion of "economization" as the tracing of how "the economic" is produced as a material-semiotic construction; and second, to propose an approach that refuses the assumption that the composition of collective provisioning will (or should) take the ultimate form of an "economy." Development processes and struggles can also be read in terms of the "composition of livelihoods"—beckoning toward a “transversal” politics that might open up possibilities for unexpected alliances and alternative regional development pathways.

Miller, Ethan (Forthcoming). "Economization and Beyond: (Re)composing Livelihoods in Maine, USA." Environment and Planning A.

Cultivating hybrid collectives: research methods for enacting community food economies in Australia and the Philippines

Ann Hill, Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson

In this paper authors Cameron, Gibson and Hill discuss two research projects in Australia and the Philippines in which we have cultivated hybrid collectives of academic researchers, lay researchers and various nonhuman others with the intention of enacting community food economies. We feature three critical interactions in the 'hybrid collective research method': gathering, reassembling and translating. We argue that in a climate changing world, the hybrid collective method fosters opportunities for a range of human and nonhuman participants to act in concert to build community food economies.

Cameron, J., K.Gibson and A. Hill, 2014. Cultivating hybrid collectives: research methods for enacting community food economies in Australia and the Philippines Local Environment 19(1), 118-132.

Introduction: Engaged Scholarship for Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies

Boone Shear

In this introduction to a special section on non-capitalist political ecologies in the Journal of Political Ecology, we discuss how engaged researchers can significantly contribute to a meaningful "ecological revolution" by (1) examining the tremendously diverse, already-existing experiments with other ways of being in the world, (2) helping to develop alternative visions, analyses, narratives, that can move people to desire and adopt those ways of being, and (3) actively supporting and constructing economies and ecologies with alternative ethical orientations.

Burke, Brian J. and Boone Shear. 2014. Introduction: Engaged Scholarship for Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies. In Burke B.J. and B.W. Shear (eds) 2014. Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies. Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology. 21: 127-144.

Always engaging with others: Assembling an Antipodean, hybrid, economic geography collective

Kelly Dombroski

In this short commentary, I engage with other economic geographers reflecting on whether there is an 'Antipodean' Economic Geography. I argue that this is less a matter of fact and more of a point of gathering: by naming and gathering something called an Antipodean Economic Geography, what possibilities do we enable and disable for new kinds of economies and geographies?

Dombroski, K. 2013. 'Always engaging with others: Assembling an Antipodean hybrid economic geography collective' Dialogues in Human Geography, 3 (2) 217-221.

Rethinking the Creative Economy: Utilizing Participatory Action Research to Develop the Community Economy of Artists and Artisans

Leo Hwang

The Rethinking the Creative Economy Project utilzed the Community Economies model and a participatory action research methodology to explore non-capitalist practices of artists and artisans in Franklin County, Massachusetts. This article begins a conversation about how to explore economic development of the creative economy in ways that strengthen artists and artisans in a postcapitalist framework.

Hwang, L. 2013. Rethinking the creative economy: utilizing participatory action research to develop the community economy of artists and artisans, Rethinking Marxism. 25(4), 501-517.

Introduction to the Symposium in Memory of Julie Graham

Esra Erdem

This introduction shows how J. K. Gibson-Graham's work continues to inspire current scholarship in the Marxian tradition. It provides an overview of articles published in Rethinking Marxism as Part I of a two-part symposium.  Erdem, E. "Introduction: Postcapitalist Encounters with Class and Community". Rethinking Marxism 25(4), 464-468.

Mapping urban space

Nate Gabriel

This articles engages with the notion of the city as capitalist space, focusing on the specific actors that come together to realign economically heterogeneous spaces into the monolithic, capitalist city.

Gabriel, N. 2013. "Mapping urban space The production, division and reconfiguration of natures and economies". City 17(3): 325–342,

Economic Imaginaries

JK Gibson-Graham

This chapter, drawn from previous writings by J.K. Gibson-Graham, is part of a collaboration with artist Sarah Browne for the IrelandVenice 2009 exposition. The piece provides an overview of some of the core thinking that emerged in the 10 years between the publication of The End of Capitalism (1996) and A Postcapitalist Politics (2006).

Economies of Trust

Ted White, White

This article examines how the “honor system” is being used in innovative ways by a variety of small enterprises, with the main focus on farm stands operating in New England. When farmers offer their produce to the public using these non-staffed, honor system environments, they cultivate the vital practice of trust between producer and consumer.

2008 “Economies of Trust” Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet. Editors: Allard , Davidson, and Matthaei. Changemaker Publications, Chicago, IL.130-138

The Economics of Occupation

Maliha Safri

This article examines the economy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and traces its connections to both historic and contemporary factory and farm occupations.

Safri, Maliha. 2012. The Economics of Occupation. The Economist's Voice. 9(3). 

The Global Household: Toward a Feminist Postcapitalist International Political Economy

Julie Graham, Maliha Safri

 The goal of this article is to introduce a new category into international political economy-the global household-and to begin to widen the focus of international political economy to include nonmarket transactions and noncapitalist production. We estimate the aggregate population of global households, the size and distribution of remittances, and the magnitude and sectoral scope of global household production. We briefly explore the possibilities for research and activism opened up by a feminist, postcapitalist international political economy centered on the global household.

Safri, Maliha and Julie Graham. 2011. The Global Household: Toward a Feminist Postcapitalist International Political Economy. Signs 36(1) 99-125.o

Strategic localism for an uncertain world: A postdevelopment approach to climate change adaptation

Katharine McKinnon

Phil Ireland and I collaborated on this paper during his PhD studies while I was at Macquarie University. We sought to bring together his work on Climate Change Adaptation with my thinking on post-development. We argue that when it comes to efforts to support Climate Change Adaptation in the majority world, it is important to challenge technocratic approaches that dismiss the value of local innovations. Instead we draw inspiration from the work of J.K. Gibson-Graham and their injunction to ‘refuse to know too much’.

Ireland, P. and McKinnon, K. (2013) ‘Strategic localism for an uncertain world: A postdevelopment approach to climate change adaptation’ Geoforum 47: 158-166

Situating wild product gathering in a diverse economy: negotiating ethical interactions with natural resources

Elizabeth (Za) Barron, Elizabeth Barron

Building on the concept of econo-sociality (Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2009), I propose the related concept of econo-ecology to explore and interpret diverse knowledges and practices of the environment using a range of case studies centered on interrelationships between humans, plants and fungi in the United States and Scotland.


Barron, E.S. forthcoming. Situating wild product gathering in a diverse economy: negotiating ethical interactions with natural resources. In: Making other worlds possible: performing diverse economies, Roelvink, G., K. St. Martin and J.K. Gibson-Graham (eds.) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Community Economy: Ontology, Ethics and Politics for Radically-Democratic Economic Organzing

Ethan Miller

This paper explores and elaborates on J.K. Gibson-Graham's concept of "community economy," refracting it into three interrelated dimensions of ontology, ethics and politics, and placing them in conversation with one another via comparative explorations of both “community economy” and “solidarity economy” as contemporary articulations for radically-democratic economic organizing.

Miller, Ethan (2013). "Community Economy: Ontology, Ethics and Politics for Radically-Democratic Economic Organizing," Rethinking Marxism, 25(4).

Toward a Cartography of the Commons: Constituting the Political and Economic Possibilities of Place

Kevin St. Martin

Competing with the cartography of capitalism, undermining its power to fix resources as open to capitalist appropriation and space as enclosed, will require a cartography of the commons that makes visible community and commons processes; it will require a shift in strategy from explicating and defending existing commons to mapping spaces into which a commons future might be projected. The “Buffalo Commons” and a map-based project in New England fisheries link new spatial imaginaries with desires for and enactments of alternative economic initiatives. Each project rereads economic and environmental processes relative to the potential of the commons rather than the potential of capitalism.


St. Martin, K. 2009. “Toward a Cartography of the Commons: Constituting the Political and Economic Possibilities of Place” Professional Geographer 61(4): 493-507.

The Difference that Class Makes: Neoliberalization and Non-Capitalism in the Fishing Industry of New England

Kevin St. Martin

Fishing economies are typically represented as pre-capitalist and as a barrier to capital accumulation rather than as an alternative economy with its own potentials. Privatization (and capitalism) appears logical and inevitable because “there is no alternative” described or given. The class analysis presented here focuses on questions of property and subjectivity and describes fishing as a non-capitalist and community-based economy consonant with both a tradition of common property and an image of “fishermen” as independent and interested in fairness and equity. While the latter is associated with a neoliberal subject aligned with the capitalist economy, a class analysis of fishing repositions “fishermen” as community subjects aligned with a community economy.


St. Martin, K. 2007.“The Difference that Class Makes: Neoliberalization and Non-Capitalism in the Fishing Industry of New England” Antipode 39(3): 527-549.

The Impact of "Community" on Fisheries Management in the U.S. Northeast

Kevin St. Martin

The discourse of fisheries science and management displaces community and culture from the essential economic dynamic of fisheries. The goal of this dominant discourse is to enclose fisheries, to constitute it as within the singular and hegemonic economy of capitalism. Alternative economies, such as those based on the presence of community, are always seen as either existing before or beyond the dominant economic formation. The category of community is, nevertheless, being incorporated into contemporary fisheries science and management where it has the potential to disrupt the ontological foundations of the current management regime. This paper explores this potential disruption.


St. Martin, K. 2006. “The Impact of "Community" on Fisheries Management in the U.S. Northeast,” Geoforum 37(2) 169-184.

Mapping Economic Diversity in the First World: The Case of Fisheries

Kevin St. Martin

This paper challenges the ways in which the First World/Third World binary, coupled with a "capitalocentric" discourse of economic development, limit possibilities for economies of community, cooperation and participation. Fisheries are used as an example to argue that undermining the presence of capitalism in the First World and making space for that which has been excluded (for example, community-based and territorial fisheries) requires a new economic and spatial imaginary.


St. Martin, K. 2005. “Mapping Economic Diversity in the First World : The Case of Fisheries,” Environment and Planning A 37: 959-979.

Disrupting Enclosure in New England Fisheries

Kevin St. Martin

"The commons" is often represented in terms that place capitalism at the center of the story, thus making "a commons future" difficult to imagine. This paper examines this problematic through research on the common property management regime of New England fisheries, seeking to offer alternative representations of commons that might open up economic possibility.

St. Martin, K. 2005. “Disrupting Enclosure in New England Fisheries,” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 16(1): 63-80.

Making Space for Community Resource Management in Fisheries

Kevin St. Martin

This article draws on field research in New England to challenge conventional individualized accounts of fishery dynamics and develop a representation of fisheries as diverse sites of community organization and cooperative management of common property. This is a "re-mapping," both literal and figurative, of the landscapes of fishery practice as a strategy to open more possibilities for communal resource management.


St. Martin , K. 2001. “Making Space for Community Resource Management in Fisheries,” The Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91(1): 122-142.



Cooperative governance: One pathway to a stable-state economy

Rhyall Gordon

In a context of climate change, this paper uses J.K. Gibson-Graham’s concept of a community economy to develop new economic possibilities outside of the growth model. We argue that cooperatives offer a significant transformative opportunity to resocialise and repoliticise economies away from the economic growth imperative

Phelan, L.; McGee, J. and Gordon, R. (2012), Cooperative governance: One pathway to a stable-state economy, Environmental Politics, 21 (3), 412-431

Different Merry-Go-Rounds: Families, Communities and the 7-Day Roster

Katherine Gibson

A booklet outlining some of the major impacts of the 7-day work roster on families and communities from the perspective of women in four coal-mining communities in Central Queensland, Australia.

Gibson, K. Different Merry-Go-Rounds: Families, Communities and the 7-Day Work Roster  (Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Centre for Women's Studies and Department of Geography and Environmental Science, 1993).

Building Community Economies in Massachusetts: An Emerging Model of Economic Development?

Janelle Cornwell, Julie Graham

This chapter explores how Nuestras Raices and the Alliance to Develop Power, two community organizations in Western Massachusetts, are building community economies and unsettling traditional formulas for economic development.

Graham J., and Cornwell, J. 2009. Building Community Econmies in Massachustts: An Emerging Mode of Economic Development? In Amin, A. (ed).The Social Eonomy International Perspectives on Economic Solidarity. 37-65

The Nitty Gritty of Creating Alternative Economies

JK Gibson-Graham

Amidst widespread concern about “the economy”, this paper explores how academic researchers can contribute to the work underway to create environmentally orientated and socially just economies. We offer the diverse economies framework as a technique with which to cultivate ethical economies.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and Roelvink, G. 2010, The Nitty Gritty of Creating Alternative Economies, Social Alternatives, Volume 30, Number 1, 2011, pp. 29-33.


Building community-based social enterprises in the Philippines

Katherine Gibson, Community Economies Collective

Community-based social enterprises offer a new strategy for people-centred local economic development in the majority „developing‟ world. In this chapter we recount the stories of four social enterprise experiments that have arisen over the last five years from partnerships between communities, NGOs and municipal governments in the Philippines, and university based researchers from Australia.

Community Economies Collective and Gibson, K. 2008, Building community-based social enterprises in the Philippines: diverse development pathways, 
Department of Human Geography, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, September 2008.
Also in A. Amin (ed.), The Social Economy: International Perspectives on Economic Solidarity. London: Zed Press, 2009.

A helping hand and many green thumbs

Ann Hill

This paper reveals how ethical economic decision making in a government-led local food project in the Philippines is generating social surplus, creating and sustaining commons and building a community-based food economy.

Hill, A. 2011. A helping hand and many green thumbs: local government, citizens and the growth of a community based food economy, Local Environment. 16(6), 539-553

Rethinking Economy for Regional Development: Ontology, Performativity and Enabling Frameworks for Participatory Vision and Action

Ethan Miller

This thesis involves three interrelated projects: first, a critique of conventional regional development literature; second, an exploration of the "performativity" of (economic) discourse at both conceptual and material levels; and third, a survey of alternative economic ontologies that might help us to imagine more diverse, ecological, equitable and democratic livelihoods.


Miller, Ethan. 2011. Rethinking Economy for Regional Development: Ontology, Performativity and Enabling Frameworks for Participatory Vision and Action. MS Thesis. Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst MA, USA.

An Economic Ethics for the Anthropocene

Gerda Roelvink, JK Gibson-Graham

Faced with the daunting prospect of global warming and the apparent stalemate in the formal political sphere, this paper explores how human beings are transformed by, and transformative of, the world in which we find ourselves.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and G. Roelvink. 2010. An economic ethics for the Anthropocene, Antipode  41(1), 320-346.

Rethinking rural transformation

Katherine Gibson, A Cahill, D Mckay

This paper draws on ecological ideas to rethink the dynamics of rural economic transformation in the Philippines.


K. Gibson, A. Cahill and D. McKay, 2010 Rethinking the dynamics of rural transformation in a Philippine municipality Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers volume: pages

A Postcapitalist Politics of Dwelling

Gerda Roelvink, JK Gibson-Graham

In this essay we draw on community economies and ecological humanities scholarship to tackle perhaps the most pressing question of our time—how do we live together with human and non-human others?

Roevlink, G. and J.K. Gibson-Graham. 2009. A postcapitalist politics of dwelling, Australian Humanities Review 46, 145-158.

Social Innovation for Community Economies

Gerda Roelvink, JK Gibson-Graham

In this chapter we stage a conversation between two innovative and longstanding projects, (1) the multiphase European-based research project on local social innovation that is represented in this book and (2) the Community Economies project which is engaged in rethinking economy through action research in Australia, the Philippines and the US.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and G. Roelvink. 2009. Social innovation for community economies, in D. MacCallum, F. Moulaert, J. Hillier and S. Haddock (eds) Social Innovation and Territorial Development, Ashgate, Farnham, UK, 25-37.

Building Community Economies: A Postcapitalist Project of Sustainable Development

Julie Graham, Stephen Healy

Explores how the idea of sustainable development might be transformed from an impossible dream (sabotaged at every turn by the force various identified as "capitalism", "the market," "modernization," and "development") into a realistic and attainble project for organizations and communities.

Healy. S. and J. Graham. 2008. Building Community Economies: A Postcapitalist Project of Sustainable Development, in D. Ruccio, ed, Economic Representations: Academic and Everyday. Routledge, New York, 291-314.

Diverse economies Kiribati

Katherine Gibson, M Pretes

Diverse economic possibilities in Kiribati 

 Gibson, K. and M. Pretes. 2008. Openings in the body of capitalism: capital flows and diverse economic posibilities in Kiribati, Asia Pacific Viewpoint  49(3), 381-391.

Book Review of A Post-Capitalist Politics by J.K. Gibson-Graham

Karen Werner

A book review about J.K. Gibson-Graham's A Post-Capitalist Politics in Critical Sociology.

Werner, Karen. 2007. Book Review of A Post-Capitalist Politics by J.K. Gibson-Graham. Critical Sociology. (33), 357–358.

Alternative Pathways to Community and Economic Development: The Latrobe Valley Community Partnering Project

Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson

Based on the Latrobe Valley Community Partnering Project, this paper introduces new ways of understanding disadvantaged areas, the economy, community and the research process in order to open up new ways of addressing social and economic issues.

Cameron, J. & Gibson, K. 2005. Alternative pathways to community and economic development: The Latrobe Valley community partnering project, Geographical Research 43(3), 274-85.

Other Transitions: Multiple Economies of Moscow Households in the 1990s

Marianna Pavlovskaya

This article examines survival strategies of urban households in post-socialist cities during the transition from the Soviet system to a market economy. The article links the outcomes of systemic transformation to the daily lives of households and connects urban change induced by mass privatization to class and gender processes inside the households. These “other transitions” in everyday class and gender processes are consistently overlooked by macroeconomic approaches that dominate among transition theorists and policy consultants.


Pavlovskaya, M. 2004. “Other transitions: Multiple economies of Moscow households in the 1990s." The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94(2), pp. 329–351.

Enabling Ethical Economies: Cooperativism and Class

JK Gibson-Graham

Situates contemporary evaluations of the Îsuccessâ of Spainâs Mondragon cooperative complex within a tradition of debate about the politics of economic transformation and argues for the development of an economics of surplus that can guide ethical decisions in community economies.


Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2003. Enabling Ethical Economies: Cooperativism and Class, Critical Sociology  29(2), 123-161.

Women and Economic Activism in the Asia Pacific Region

Katherine Gibson

How women's activism in the Philippines, China and Papua New Guinea is helping build and strengthen community economies.


Gibson, K. 2002. Women and economic activism in the Asia Pacific region, Development 45(1), 74-79.

Transforming communities: towards a research agenda

Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson

A review of Australian research and policy interventions aimed at communities and regions from the perspective of the Community Economies Project

Gibson, K. and J. Cameron. 2001.Transforming communities: towards a research agenda, Urban Policy and Research 19(1), 7-24.

Imagining and Enacting Non-Capitalist Futures


 Outlines the 'politics of becoming' associated with desiring and building communal economies.


The Community Collective. 2001. Imagining and enacting non-capitalist futures, Socialist Review 28(3), 93-135.