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A solidarity economy is based on efforts that seek to increase the quality of life of a region or community through local business and not-for-profit endeavors. It mainly consists of activities organized to address and transform exploitation under capitalist economics and the large-corporation, large-shareholder-dominated economy, and can include diverse activities. For some, it refers to a set of strategies and a struggle aimed at the abolition of capitalism and the social relations that it supports and encourages; for others, it names strategies for "humanizing" the capitalist economy—seeking to supplement capitalist globalization with community-based "social safety nets".
The still-evolving term "solidarity economy" is an English translation of a concept formulated in Lima, Peru in 1997 (economía solidaria), in Quebec in 2001, and in Brazil during the World Social Forum of 2001, and in Portuguese as "economia solidária". It is also represented by the French "économie solidaire" and similar terms in several other languages. As such it is sometimes translated by other expressions such as "solidarity-based economy".
The solidarity economy is often considered part of the social economy, forming what might be termed the "social and solidarity economy" (from the French "économie sociale et solidaire"). The concepts are still under development and the difference between the two terms is gradually being clarified. An organization seeing itself as part of the solidarity economy generally goes beyond achieving purely social aims: it aims to put right an injustice by expressing solidarity. For example, a local sports club has a social aim and so can be considered part of the social economy, but would not normally be considered part of the solidarity economy except in special circumstances (e.g. a township sports club in South Africa in the days of apartheid).
Examples of organizations
- Fair trade organizations form part of the solidarity economy as their aim is to express practical solidarity with farmers in the developing world by paying them fair prices for their produce.
- Self-help organizations also form part of the solidarity economy as members support each other in dealing with their problems as a practical form of solidarity.
- Co-operatives and especially worker cooperatives form part of the solidarity economy if their aims include a commitment to solidarity in some form.
- Trade unions are often considered a key part of the solidarity economy as they are based on the principle of solidarity between workers.
- Free software movement, open-source development and other forms of commons-based peer production.
- Social center
- Give-away shops and other forms of gift economy
- Global Social Economy Forum
- Local exchange trading systems (LETS) as a way of replacing money.
- Solidarity lending
- Ethical purchasing
- Economy for the Common Good
- Trade School, a Participatory art project co-founded by Caroline Woolard, where participants barter materials, ideas, and services for knowledge.
- "Solidarity Economy: An Overview," US Solidarity Economy Network Archived 2014-01-25 at the Wayback Machine
- The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy
- Singer, P (2002) "The Rebirth of the Solidary Economy (sic) in Brazil" in B de S Santos Produzir Para Viver.; Brazilian Forum for the Solidarity Economy (in Portuguese)
- RUEB, Emily (February 23, 2010). "A Trade School Where Ideas are Currency". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2015.