Grassroots Movements, Degrowth and ‘New Economies’

There are numerous grassroots movements and initiatives worldwide with the ambition to contribute to transformative change towards more sustainable, resilient and just societies. Many of them have a specific vision on the economy and relate to alternative visions of a ‘New Economy’. The research project TRANSIT highlights four prominent strands of new economy thinking in state-of-the-art discussions: degrowth, collaborative economy, solidarity economy, and social entrepreneurship. Taking a perspective of transformative social innovation, the study draws on case studies of 12 social innovation initiatives to analyze how these relate to new economies and to transitions toward new economic arrangements. All the networks we studied – including those not focusing on finance or economics – emphasize the need for a new economy.

Different perspectives on changing the economy

As eloquently described on the website of the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), “It is very common for the social economy to be conflated with the solidarity economy, but that they are not the same thing and the implications of equating them are rather profound.”  It is argued that the “social economy” is a third sector phenomenon which complements the normal state and government, while the solidarity economy in fact “seeks to change the whole social-economic system and puts forth a different paradigm” of development based on solidarity economy principles. Thus in a network like RIPESS there are quite a few people who are actually rather critical of networks such as Impact Hub. Social entrepreneurship, so their argument, is not enough to really change the economic system towards a more solidary one.

So we clearly see that the networks have very different narratives of change.

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