Solidarity economy and community development: emerging cases in three Massachusetts cities
Communty Development Vol 46, 2015 - Issue 3 : Community Development and Democratic Practice
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Solidarity economy (SE) is a set of theories and practices that engenders ethical economic relationships and new possibilities for democratic and transformative community development. SE advances democratic community development by providing an alternative to capitalist ideology from which the core goals of solidarity and agency can be imagined, identified, and realized. Further, it advances a set of concrete economic practices that enact these goals while sustaining people and the planet. Politically, SE is a movement that can build power within and across scales and win supportive policy and public resources. Using the development of SE in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, Massachusetts as examples, the article discusses the possibilities and challenges for SE projects to negotiate across differing values and politics, racial and class divides, and the challenge of accessing startup capital and building finance. SE suggests trajectories of “scaling up,” where local and regional efforts might be part of a strategy for deeper political-economic transformation. How SE expands depends on how actors in particular places and times take advantage of opportunities and overcome ideological, economic, and political challenges.