Mapping the Economic Impact of the Solidarity Economy in the Eastern United States
Submitted to the Asian Solidarity Economy Council, on the occasion of the 5th RIPESS International Meeting of SSE, Manila, Philippines, October, 15-18, 2013.
Craig Borowiak, October 2013
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In recent years, practitioners and researchers of the social solidarity economy (hereafter SSE) have taken great interest in ideas of “mapping.” This interest has been evident at multiple local levels. Mapping, for example, is explicitly promoted by the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) through its ESSGlobal initiative. Mapping is also a recurring theme at international SSE conferences and forums.2 Mapping has also been a major theme at national level and local levels, where SSE practitioners and researchers turn to mapping techniques as a way to boost awareness and foster local support for the SSE.
Maps, however, can serve different functions, and mapping can be done in a variety of ways. Thus far, most SSE mapping initiatives have focused on maps as tools for movement building. They focus on maps as ways to build SSE networks, organize SSE practitioners, heighten the visibility and credibility of SSE practices, and foster markets for SSE products and services. In this paper, I introduce a different, more sociological mode of SSE mapping. Drawing upon preliminary research conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I demonstrate how maps can be used to analyze demographic patterns that underlie the SSE and its various sectors.
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