This note explores examples of co-operative ways of organizing work and life that are rooted in a desire for radical eco-social change. We look at and unravel the politics of work and the ecology of support of Footprint, a worker-owned printing co-operative, which is located in Leeds (UK). The first part places special attention on the values and value-practices that inform the co-op’s daily activities, while the second part explores how the sustainability of Footprint’s radical working methods are interlinked with their participation in a (trans)local ecology of social and environmental activism.
In 2012, I was involved in the experimental study program, Campus in Camps, which is located in the West Bank and which brought together 15 third-generation refugees to study the contemporary condition of Palestinian refugee camps and to speculate about their potential futures. In this article, I draw on my experience at Campus in Camps in order to reflect on how design and speculation can be activated by designers and non-designers to speculate with care about the matters of their own lives. To explore the potential held by the design speculations produced at Campus in Camps, I draw on the work of feminist philosopher Marìa Puig de la Bellacasa around " matters of care ".
This article draws from and advances urban studies literature on ‘creative city’ policies by exploring the contradictory role of queer arts practice in contemporary placemarketing strategies. Here I reflect on the fraught politics surrounding Radiodress’s each hand as they are called project, a deeply personal exploration of radical Jewish history programmed within Luminato, a Toronto-based international festival of creativity. Specifically, I explore how Luminato and the Koffler Centre, a Jewish organisation promoting contemporary art, regulated Radiodress’s work in order to stage marketable notions of ethnic and queer diversity. I also examine how and why the Koffler Centre eventually blacklisted Radiodress and her project.
This essay reflects on two chapters on the theme of 'social entrepreneurship, relationality and the possible.' The essay explores how these chapters take a relational view of the world by featuring the importance of the relationships between people, and between people and ‘things’. What emerges from the two chapters are insights into social entrepreneurship as a social change practice not so much for finding accommodations in what is already present but for shifting the frame of what is thinkable and doable. The two chapters document strategies for social change while also recognising that social change is an unpredictable and uneven process that involves responding to the unexpected.
This contribution calls attention to the values of assemblage thinking for the study of contentious economies. A syntactical perspective can make visible social arrangements that are otherwise difficult to represent in traditional social movement categories. With the help of a jar of jam, an object that has meaningful entanglements in anti-camorra activism in Campania (Italy), the article begins by empirically illustrating instances of mobilisation that disrupt relationships of mafia dependency. The focus lies on the force of composition, the syntax of contention. The second section moves on to explore the theoretical backdrop of the analysis, and does so by suggesting some possible points of dialogue between social movement studies and assemblage thinking.
What does it mean to be at home in a hot city? One response is to shut our doors and close ourselves in a cocoon of air-conditioned thermal comfort. As the climate warms, indoor environments facilitated by technical infrastructures of cooling are fast becoming the condition around which urban life is shaped. The price we pay for this response is high: our bodies have become sedentary, patterns of consumption individualized, and spaces of comfortable mobility and sociality in the city, termed in this paper as “infrastructures of care,” have declined.
Despite the shortened commodity chain created for coffee through fair trade, there still exist a number of actors within certified commodity exchange. This chain is populated by disproportionately engaged actors, from a consumer looking for the certification seal, to coffee roasters working directly with coffee producing cooperatives, to producers striving to keep up with the standards for certification. Despite such disparities, connections are made between the roasters and the growers of coffee at multiple sites, from community-based projects to the transfer of knowledge and storytelling beyond the communities where coffee is cultivated.
Provoked by mass evictions and the onset of gentrification in the 1970s, tenants in Washington, D.C. began forming cooperative organizations to collectively purchase and manage their apartment buildings. These tenants were creating a commons, taking a resource—housing—that had been used to extract profit from them, and reshaping it as a resource that was collectively owned and governed by them. In Carving Out the Commons, Amanda Huron theorizes the practice of urban commoning through a close investigation of the city’s limited-equity housing cooperatives.
This article examines unpaid work within urban agriculture sites. It focuses on the extra work—the surplus labor—that is performed to sustain these sites and how this work relates to subject formation. Land access and subjectivities are widely discussed in the urban agriculture literature, particularly in the Global North, but recent research has also identified the continual supply of labor as a crucial issue as well. However, work dynamics of urban agriculture have seldom been the object of analysis, and little is known about the relationship between unpaid urban agriculture work and subjectivity. I argue that surplus labor is useful for analysis because of the surplus value that is produced through urban agriculture.
This public declaration was one outcome from the Reconfiguring the Enterprise Research Project. It was written and signed by the research team (Katherine Gibson, Stephen Healy, Jenny Cameron and Joanne McNeill) and the participating Australian manufacturers. The declaration was widely distributed, including to state and Federal members of parliament. It has contributed to ongoing discussions about the direction of Australian manufacturing in the 21st century.
In this article I engage with Latour's concept of 'learning to be affected' to think about the possibility of co-parents developing a kind of 'maternal intuition' based on embodied infant hygiene care practices. This is one of the most difficult articles I have written, and it took many years and spanned many of my own babies!
This review essay engages with Maria Puig de la Bellacasa's book Matters of Care: Speculative ethics in more-than-human worlds. I discuss the style of affirmative critique she uses in her work.
We describe the PhD Journey as one which is logistical, emotional and intellectual. We analyse our own experiences of collectivising aspects of doctoral study and supervision in the post-disaster context of Christchurch, describing -- and assembling -- a hybrid caring collective that included a variety of things from quakes to cakes.
The paper has been collaboratively written with co‐researchers across Southeast Asia and represents an experimental mode of scholarship that aims to advance a post‐development agenda.This paper introduces the project of documenting keywords of place‐based community economies in Monsoon Asia. It extends Raymond William’s cultural analysis of keywords into a non‐western context and situates this discursive approach within a material semiotic framing. For Open Access, click here.
This book chapter outlines the basics of diverse economies and the idea of capitalocentrism for an audience in international political economy.
Deepening ecological crisis alongside a half century of widening inequality and economic instability are evidence that Business as Usual cannot go on. Transformation is required, particularly in the realm of corporate activity, the business of business. Shareholder primacy is a powerful social norm that constrains transformation. It positions publicly traded corporations as compelled by competitive necessity and bound by law to place shareholder returns first. This paper reviews critical legal theory that questions the historical precedence, legal coherence and practical consequence of shareholder primacy in corporate law. I consider Deakin’s (2011) suggestion that it might be more appropriate to think of the corporation as a commons managed for the benefit of multiple parties.
This paper stages an encounter between Relational Poverty Theory (RPT) and the solidarity economy movement. RPT understands poverty as the dynamic product of economic exploitation, political exclusion and cultural marginalization. The solidarity economy movement can be seen as a transformative political response to these dynamics aiming to replace exploitation with cooperation, exclusion with participation and marginalisation with practices of inclusion. Globally, more than sixty solidarity economy movements are coordinating efforts, developing associative relations between cooperative economic institutions, social justice movements, and one another. While these developments are encouraging, many practitioners are concerned about the movement’s future.
This paper, forthcoming in Arena reflects on the late Zygmunt Bauman's essay on the work ethic published in Arena in 1996. I began this paper the day after Zygmunt died, and took up with his question of what happens to the poor in a world where work disappears. His essay seemed to presage many of the current debates about postcapitalism, new forms of automation, the future of work and the role that basic income may play in a world with less work in the formal economy. In the current moment a life beyond capitalism seems more discernible, either as a post-work utopia or a condition of permanent precarity.
Climate change is creating challenges and opportunities for community development. The challenges arise from declining biophysical conditions and the socio-political and economic barriers that delay, delegitimize or co-opt genuine community responses. Opportunities are arising from global climate change activism networks that provide new resources and discourses for activists and community organizers. These challenges and opportunities are unevenly shaped by the possibility for genuine democratic contestation in different contexts. In this article we draw on recent climate justice mobilizations in Aotearoa New Zealand. These mobilizations called for divestment from fossil fuel activities by blocking access to major banks around the country that directly support the industry.
The reproductive and care work predominantly undertaken by women has historically been undervalued in traditional measures of the economy. However, calls for more work, or better work for women (and men) doesn’t necessarily solve the issues surrounding waged labour such as zero hour contracts, the ‘double work day’, and other forms of increasing precarity and competition. In this article I explore how alternative forms of labour exchange in the Wellington Timebank provide one way in which subjects can partially operate outside the waged economy. I draw on Jacques Rancière’s understanding of how a radical equality underpins a democratic politics to explore the everyday negotiations around labour that occur in this alternative economy.
Within participatory geography and relational aesthetic art literature there have been calls to focus on how participation is framed, who is included and excluded, the types of relations involved and the effects of such practices. Linked to these concerns, questions have also been raised around how participants are framed and understood in participatory projects. For instance, as self‐determining and knowing subjects who become politically affirmed through participation, or as subjects caught up in complex processes of becoming. In this article I show how the participatory art project ‘Productive Bodies’ in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, enabled participants to articulate the complex contradictions surrounding waged work, redundancy and unemployment.
The burgeoning literature on diverse and community economies has been relatively hopeful, exploring how people learn, enact new and reclaim other ways of meeting their needs outside of capitalist practices. For good reasons, much of this work has sought to avoid a conventional critical-leftist orientation, instead adopting what Gibson-Graham call a ‘weak theory’ approach ‘that welcomes surprise, entertains hope, makes connection, tolerates coexistence and offers care for the new’. Within this literature until recently, less attention has been given to how community economy collectives negotiate the everyday ethical dilemmas to enact interdependence.
In this paper, I consider the role of public engagement in the management of urban environments and its ability to undermine post-political discourses. In particular, I explore the ways in which the ethical propositions of an apoliticized environment are variously taken up uncritically, challenged, and sometimes modified through the public’s engagement with de-politicized discourses of environment management. Drawing from a case study in Philadelphia involving ecological restoration volunteers, I argue that volunteerism provides opportunities for the marginalization of the public, but also for confrontation and modification of expert knowledge.
Rethinking the Creative Economy: The Diverse Economies of Artists and Artisans in Rural Massachusetts
This dissertation explores the contours of artistic economic activity through participatory action research conducted with artists and artisans in the Greater Franklin County, Massachusetts. The creative economy has drawn significant attention over the past ten years as a principle economic sector that can stimulate the redevelopment of post-industrial cities. However, dominant creativity–based development strategies tend to cater to the tastes of an economically privileged, and implicitly white, “creative class,’ leading to gentrification and social exclusion based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender.
From our atmosphere to the open ocean, from our languages to the rule of law, use without ownership underpins human experience. It is critical to our continued survival beyond the Anthropocene. These resources and properties are ineluctably shared because they are not wholly appropriable; they are used as part of a commons because they cannot be entirely exchanged. They are held in common because they cannot be completely enclosed. This essay is concerned with the use of and care for the commons as an object of inquiry, a practice of all social life, and as the operative condition of intellectual production.The essay continues the ‘Foundational Essays’ series developed by the Institute for Culture and Society on basic concepts and approaches in social enquiry and practice.
How can we work to transform our economies so that all can survive well together? In the Millennium declaration, signatories pledged to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty”, eventually resulting in the detailed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Setting targets is a management strategy which assumes the problem of poverty is primarily a lack of goal-setting, vision, or resource allocation. This is one important aspect of the problem to be sure, and the SDG process has certainly altered resource allocations and produced results.
This paper is based on a talk I delivered at Rethinking Marxism’s 2013 international conference in conversation with Jodi Dean at a plenary session entitled “Crafting a Conversation on Communism.” I attempt to clear up a point of confusion in Dean’s reading of postcapitalist politics and the work of the Community Economies Collective (of which I am a member) in order to arrive at a point we share in common: the immanent relevance of communism to contemporary politics, as evidenced by Occupy and other events.
Saint Francis in Climate-Changing Times: Form of Life, the Highest Poverty, and Postcapitalist Politics
This paper considers the relevance of Franciscan monastic practice to contemporary postcapitalist politics in the time of the Anthropocene. Giorgio Agamben’s reflections on the monastic revolution of the eleventh and twelfth centuries explore the different relationships between the rules governing monastic life and materiality, wherein the renunciation of property and the practice of highest poverty give the greatest expression of a collective, monastic form of life. The embodied connection between having a rule and living it contrasts starkly with emergent Church doctrine that introduced a cynical split between the sacred and the material: good or bad, the priest only need say the words.
Over the past 20 years, the term “solidarity economy” (SE) has come to refer to economic activities that seek to promote overall quality of life within a community, as opposed to prioritizing private profit maximization in a competitive market. The organizations and enterprises comprising the solidarity economy tend to be collectively and democratically run for the benefit of their members. The activities associated with the solidarity economy do not preclude turning a profit (or generating surplus), nor do they necessarily require disengaging entirely from market exchange. But they usually exhibit a substantial alignment with ethical principles of social equity and solidarity, environmental sustainability, and pluralist democracy.
In this paper we use the concept of surviving well to reframe happiness.