Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Research Exchange

This blog has been created to support the conference exchange funded by the British Academy and organised by Dr Peter North at Liverpool University, Professor Marcelo Lopes de Souza, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Professor Molly Scott Cato of Roehampton University.

A key issue for the future prosperity of both Global North and South is the
challenge of reconciling a right to human development with the need to avoid
dangerous climate change and the unsustainable depletion of resources. Key to
this is the development of resilient and sustainable livelihoods and economic
opportunities in economies in which communities and ecosystems can thrive.
These seminars will facilitate a North/South discussion about how to develop
sustainable livelihood options through a consideration of the experiences of
conceptions of the ‘Big Society’ and of low carbon community action in the Global
North, and conceptions of the ‘solidarity economy’ and of low carbon development
in Latin America. Actors in the global North and South have conceptualised
alternatives to economic growth at the cost of human wellbeing and the resilience
of ecosystems, and both propose optimistic and creative livelihood options. Both
can learn from each other.

The first conference was held in Liverpool between 12th and 14th March 2012. Leading Latin American academics visited the UK to share their knowledge of solidarity economy developments. We will be making their presentations and other resources available here soon.

Share Inspiration from Latin America

On the first day of the conference, Wednesday 14th March, we learned about the exciting developments in the solidarity economy in Latin America. Jose Luis Coraggio from the Buenos Aires University School of Economic Sciences set the scene, framing developments in terms of an emancipatory approach to economic life. Heloisa Primavera, a Brazilian local currency activist now living in Argentina shared the perspective from Latin American NGOs, and then Dario Azzellini explored the relationship between the state and workers' organisations in Venezuela.

In the afternoon UK social and economic activists reflected on solidarity economy developments here. John Barry, from Queen's University Belfast gave a theoretical grounding to political economy in an age of vulnerability, including a critical attack on neoclassical economics in the academuy. This session we also enjoyed the insights from practice, shared by Paul Chatteron of Leeds University who explored what it means to be a Zapatista in Leeds. Andy Cumbers from Glasgow University shared his research into mutually owned windfarms in Denmarket, and finally, Adrian Smith gave the practitioner view by sharing his experiences in developing renewable energy co-operatives.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Conference Organisers

Pete North is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Liverpool. He has a long standing research interest in alternative economies in the global north and south, with a particular interest in alternative currencies and what a socially inclusive, economically vibrant and co-operative low carbon future would look like. He is a founder member of Transition South Liverpool. Pete has spent time travelling in Latin America and studying its currencies. He has written widely on the subject of local money including most recently Local Money: How to Make it Happen in Your Community (Green Books, 2010).

Molly Scott Cato is Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton. She is an expert in the social economy and director of the Responsible Capitalism research centre. She has a longstanding interest in Latin America since studying the politics of the region for her first degree. Ideas about common wealth feature strongly in her view of Green Economics (Earthscan, 2009) and she is now developing the theory of a bioregional economy, closely embedded in place and where local resources are shared equally within self-reliant local economies.

Marcelo Lopes de Souza is a professor at the Department of Geography of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro. He pioneered the study of spatiality and social production of space from an 'autonomist' perspective. Marcelo Lopes de Souza has published nine books and more than 80 articles and book chapters covering spatial theory, popular participation in urban planning, social movements theory, urban ‘utopias’/alternative visions, urban problems, and the ‘spatiality of libertarian thought’.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Conference Outline

The first of the two conferences will be held in Liverpool between 13th and 15th March 2012. The following Latin American experts in the social economy have confirmed their attendance:

Professor Marcelo Lopes de Souza, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (expert on urban social movements and informal economies in cities – co organiser)

Professor Jose Luis Coraggio, University of General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, and co-ordinator of the Latin American Research Network on the solidarity economy

Professor Heloisa Primavera, University of Buenos Aires and co-ordinator of the Solidarity Barter Network in Argentina: engaged academic with grounded experience of a range of solidarity economy initiatitives in Latin America

Day One: 14th March 2012, Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool.
1 Brownlow St Liverpool L69 3GL

9.00 – 9.30 Arrival, registration, tea and coffee
9-30-10.00 Introduction and aims of the seminar: Peter North,
10.00-11.00 Jose Luis Coraggio, University of General Sarmiento, Argentina: The Solidarity Economy: Conceptual Overview
11.00-11.15 morning coffee
11.15-12.15 Heloisa Primavera, University of Buenos Aires: The Solidarity Economy: the view from Civil Society
12.15-1.15 Dario Azzellini (University of Linz) and Diana Raby (University of Liverpool). Lessons and experiences from Venezuela’s solidarity economy.
1.15-1.45 Lunch
1.45-2.15 Paul Chatterton (University of Leeds): Latin American influences on UK academic and activist practise
2.15-3.15 John Barry (Queen’s University Belfast): Political Economy of Climate Change.
3.15-3.30 Tea and Coffee
3.30-4.45 Adrian Smith (University of Sussex) and Andy Cumbers (University of Glasgow). Civil Society engagement in renewable energy.
4.45-5.30 Response: Panel of our Latin American Visitors, followed by discussion led by team
5.30pm Close

Day Two: 15th March 2012, Blackburne House, Liverpool.
Blackburne Place, Liverpool, Merseyside L8 7PE

9.00 – 9.15 Arrival, registration, tea and coffee
9-15-9.30 Welcome: Rosie Jolly, Socail Enterprise Network
Introduction and aims of day two: Molly Scott Cato (University of Roehampton)

9.30:9.50 Robbie Davison – Can Cook Films
A visual presentation of Merseyside social enterprises
9.50-10.20 Short presentations from social enterprises (2),
10.20-11.30 Andrew Simms, New Economic Foundation
The Big Society, the new mutualism: opportunities and threats in the UK
11.00-11.15 Response from our visitors
11.15-11.30 Tea and coffee
11.30-11.40 Cllr Patrick Hurley – Liverpool City Council
Co-operative councils
11.40-12.30 Colin Crooks – CEO Green Works UK practice overview
Response (5 mins) from our visitors
12.30-1.30 Lunch and networking
1.30-1.45 Introduction to the afternoon: Pete North, Molly Scott Cato
1.45-3.30 World Café Section- – tea and coffee available
3.30-4.00 Marcelo, Dario and Heloisa – response from Latin America: SEN response: (5-10 min each), what are the issues?
4.00-5.00 participatory process/discussion led by Pete, Molly and Marcelo: where are we going from here?
5.00pm Close

Monday, 7 November 2011

Questions, questions

• How we can create enjoyable, socially-inclusive, democratically managed jobs, enterprises, co-operatives and other forms of formal and informal economic organisation in a climate and resource constrained world?

• How do we define what it means to live the sort of life we want to live, while understanding that climate change and resource constraint issues need to be recognised?

• How do we identify what we need and what we should produce?

• What is enjoyable, convivial, democratically-controlled work, as opposed to exploitative useless toil?

• How do we maintain and enable to flourish that which we hold in common and all depend on: wider ecosystems, social services, civic life, community?

• What does it mean to create wealth, to be entrepreneurial? How can we develop new, social and collective understandings of wealth creation?

• Are markets always capitalist, always illogical, prone to crisis and unequal rewards – or good allocation mechanisms? Can we reconfigure markets so they work to different rhythms?

• Can we change the world without taking power? What are the possibilities and limits of grassroots action? Is this a naïve suggestion?

• What is the role of the state? Can the state facilitate, rather than co-opt, grassroots action? Should we change the world by taking power? Do social democratic models in Scandinavian countries get the ballence beween civil society and a supportive state, underpin by public spending, right?

• Are social democratic governments better or worse at working with civil society, without co-opting them? Paradoxically, are there more opportunities for grassroots change under neoliberal governments where citizens are expected to fend for themselves more? Or in the latter case, is this just a cover for privatisation, with social/solidarity economy organisations being set up to fail?

• What are the best conceptual and theoretical tools for thinking these issues through?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Jose Luis Coraggio

José Luis Coraggio is an Argentinean economist and Professor of Urban Economic Systems at the Instituto del Conurbano (ICO) of the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina. He is Academic Director of the Masters Program in Social Economy and organizes the Latin American Network of Researchers on Social and Solidarian Economy. His current research focuses on the urban popular economy, local development and work-based economy and social policies, with special attention on education policies.

Heloisa Primavera

Heloisa Primavera is Professor at the Masters Programme in Public Administration, School of Economics at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she conducts a Research and Development Project on Complementary Currencies and Social Economy. She is also the Founder of the Latin American Network on Solidarity Socioeconomy. While many of us know about the extraordinary events with alternative economics in Argentina during the economic crisis at the end of the last century, Heloisa was at the heart of this process. During the period 1995 – 2002, following failed monetary policies and the high rates of unemployment these caused, Argentina developed a vibrant local currency movement which included several million people. The financial and political crisis of December 2001 caused a chaotic situation that had an impact on these running 'barter networks' leading to their rapid decline. Heloisa will discuss the relationship between currency, solidarity economy and state power.