Solidarity Economies in Marche, Italy: current trends and perspectives
No 124127, Congress Papers from Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA)
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The paper illustrates selected results of an exploratory research study coordinated by the “Solidarity Economy Network” of the Marche Region in Italy (REES Marche) in 2010-2011. The study was funded by Banca Popolare Etica, it involved three Universities of the Region (Università Politecnica delle Marche, Università di Macerata, Università di Camerino), adopting an interdisciplinary approach. It aimed at investigating the cultural, economic and political determinants that characterize the world of critical consumption, examining a sample of 20 GAS (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, Solidarity Purchasing Groups), 182 GAS members and 50 firms (among which 20 agricultural GAS suppliers). Data was collected through ad hoc questionnaires, in depth interviews and focus group interviews. Qualitative and quantitative data have been analysed by the different research equips from a sociological, psycho-sociological and economic point of view, providing an insight on different issues concerning the actual framework of the solidarity economy in the region and possible further developments. The GAS experience emerges as a very diversified reality centred in the food economy, and food quality is a particularly sensitive issue to those who are involved in a GAS. In some ways the GAS members emerge as an élite group that does not represent the worldwide society. There is an abstract belief in the social function of the state of minority active citizenship as a factor of social change, but to affect the social reality a relevant set of organization and communication skills is needed. Focusing on the suppliers linked to the GAS network, the analysis highlights that the question of market organization was sometimes lived as personal hard work rather than a goal to be achieved together with a participatory approach and shared aims. Basing the analysis on GAS experience, a reading of Solidarity Economy nature and development in Marche Region will be provided.