When citizens take collaborative action to meet the needs of theircommunity, they are participating in the social economy. Co-operatives,community-based social services, local non-profit organizations, andcharitable foundations are all examples of social economies thatemphasize mutual benefit rather than the accumulation of profit. Whilesuch groups often participate in market-based activities to achievetheir goals, they also pose an alternative to the capitalist marketeconomy. Contributors to Scaling Up investigated innovative socialeconomies in British Columbia and Alberta and discovered that achievinga social good through collective, grassroots enterprise resulted in asustainable 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 socialeconomy generally demonstrate a commitment to three outcomes: greatersocial justice, financial self-sufficiency, and environmentalsustainability. Within the matrix of these three allied principles lienew strategic directions for the politics of sustainability.
Whether they were examining attainable and affordable housinginitiatives, co-operative approaches to the provision of socialservices, local credit unions, farmers’ markets, orcommunity-owned power companies, the contributors found socialeconomies providing solutions based on reciprocity and an understandingof how parts function within the whole—an understanding that isessential to sustainability. In these locally defined and controlled,democratically operated organizations we see possibilities for a morehuman economy that is capable of transforming the very social andtechnical systems that make our current way of life unsustainable.
Mike Gismondi is professor of sociology and globalstudies in the Centre for Social Sciences at Athabasca University.Sean Connelly is currently lecturer in geography atthe University of Otago and a research associate with the Centre forSustainable Community Development at Simon Fraser University.Mary Beckie is an associate professor in theUniversity of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension. SeanMarkey is an associate professor with the School of Resourceand Environmental Management and an associate with the Centre forSustainable Community Development at Simon Fraser University.Mark Roseland is professor of planning in the SimonFraser University’s School of Resource and EnvironmentalManagement and director of the SFU Centre for Sustainable CommunityDevelopment.
List of Tables and Figures ix
Introduction: Social Economics and Sustainability / MikeGismondi, Sean Connelly, Mary Beckie, Sean Markey, and MarkRoseland
1 Towards Convergence: An Exploratory Framework 7 / SeanConnelly, Mike Gismondi, Sean Markey, and Mark Roseland
2 The Green Social Economy in British Columbia and Alberta 27 /Mike Gismondi, Lynda Ross, and Juanita Marois
3 The Role of the Social Economy in Scaling Up Alternative FoodInitiatives 59 / Mary Beckie and Sean Connelly
4 Human Services and the Caring Society 83 / JohnRestakis
5 Towards Sustainable Resource Management: Community Energy andForestry in British Columbia and Alberta 113 / Julie L.MacArthur
6 Evolving Conceptions of the Social Economy: The Arts, Culture, andTourism in Alert Bay 147 / Kelly Vodden, Lillian Hunt, and RandyBell
7 Non-Profit and Co-operative Organizations and the Provision ofSocial Housing 171 / George Penfold, Lauren Rethoret, and TerriMacDonald
8 Land Tenure Innovations for Sustainable Communities 195 /Marena Brinkhurst and Mark Roseland
9 Sustaining Social Democracy Through Heritage-Building Conservation223 / Noel Keough, Mike Gismondi, and ErinSwift-Leppäkumpu
10 Strong Institutions, Weak Strategies: Credit Unions and the RuralSocial Economy 249 / Sean Markey, Freya Kristensen, and StewartPerry
Conclusion "Social Economizing" Sustainability 271 /Mike Gismondi, Sean Connelly, and Sean Markey
List of Contributors 299
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