Solidarity economy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solidarity economy or Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) refers to a wide range of economic activities that aim to prioritize social profitability instead of purely financial profits. A key feature that distinguishes solidarity economy entities from private and public enterprises is the participatory and democratic nature of governance in decision-making processes as one of the main principles of the SSE sector.[1] Active participation of all people involved in decision-making procedures contributes to their empowerment as active political subjects. However, different SSE organizational structures reflect variations in democratic governance and inclusive participation.[2] Ultimately, SSE represents a crucial tool in guaranteeing that social justice ideals are upheld and that the wellbeing of the most vulnerable populations is paid attention to during the planning processes.[3]


Some refer to solidarity economy as a method for naming and conceptualizing transformative monetary qualities, practices, and foundations that exist throughout the world. These incorporate, yet are not constrained to, egalitarian and participatory monetary conduct by people, laborers, and makers, for example, by a person who is a moral shopper, specialist, and additionally financial specialist, or by a specialist co-op, reasonable exchange business, or dynamic association.[4] It is an economic formation which seeks to improve the quality of life of a region or community on the basis of solidarity, often 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.[5] 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".

Historically, classical utilitarians argued that individuals should adopt a system which maximizes the total of all individuals' utility. When the utilities of people are summed, the personal utilities become equivalent. In other words, one's personal utility is equivalent to the utility of others. Individuals can then comprehend how other people feel, forming the foundation of the solidarity economy.[6] Solidarity might be more effective than alienated individuality in certain instances. Game theory can explain greater productivity via solidarity. Sometimes in game theory contexts, cooperative instances might lead to a larger benefit, however game theory fundamentally presupposes the selfish nature of individual individuals. A major distinction between solidarity and game theory is that solidarity economy places and recognizes the selfless component of humans above their egotistical features.[6]


"Solidarity economy" was used as an economic organizing concept as early as 1937, when Felipe Alaiz advocated for the development of economic solidarity among worker collectives in urban and rural areas during the Spanish Civil War [7] It emerged more widely as a term in Latin America over the past twenty years in response to community and worker demands to expand forms of social inclusion and unity. Different conceptions of Solidarity Economy originated among movements seeking to create grassroots economies during the military dictatorships that dominated Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s and subsequently, flourished as of the emergence of financial neoliberal democracies in the 1990s up to the present.[8]

The term "Social Solidarity Economy" started to be used in the late 90s.  The first meeting of what would thereafter become the RIPESS (Intercontinental network for the promotion of social solidarity economy) network, took place in Lima, Peru on July 4, 1997 and the participants from more than 30 countries agreed that there needed to be a strong integration between the more traditional social economy structures (collective enterprises – a sector of the solidarity economy) and the more holistic and alternative approaches of solidarity economy practices and communities. The notion of solidarity economy has gained popularity, particularly since the early 2000s.[6] In fact, while in most francophone and hispanophone countries the expression used is "Social AND Solidarity Economy", when the RIPESS network was formally announced in December 2002, it chose to eliminate the "AND" in its official name, in order to stress solidarity economy's aim of transformative system change, which includes going beyond the social economy. Another global network with the same aims, the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World, produced an enhanced definition: "Production, distribution and consumption activities which contribute to the democratisation of the economy via citizen engagement at the local and global level.[9] Many networks continue to use the term Solidarity Economy and institutions usually refer to SSE as Social and Solidarity Economy.[10] 

According to previous revolutionary trends, we could be in the midst of a historical shift away from marketism and towards solidarity.[6]

Solidarity-based economic approaches[edit]

One SSE approach focuses primarily on making the current economic system sustainable. Its objective is the creation of enterprises that serve its members or the community, instead of simply striving for financial profit by prioritising people and work over capital in the distribution of revenue and surplus.[11] Human, financial, and environmental assets are just a few instances of the variables that influence a company's sustainability. This notion, which is relevant to SSE enterprises, is integrated into social systems like social accountability and social balance.[12]United Nations Research Institute for Social Development has concluded that "social and solidarity economy, a science-in-the-making, cannot go very far in framing discourses and in engaging with the bigger picture, as an alternative to the crisesridden "dominant economic paradigm"" and calls for further developing SSE into a new scientific theory with its own foundations which would offer an alternative to the homo economicus.[13] Environmental development, furthermore known as sustainable development, is a type of economic and social advancement that ensures living standards within the ecosystem and therefore is tailored to the needs of each sustained region in order to become both humanistic and sustainable throughout time.[14]

Another approach in this regard could be the "Bill on the Hook" project of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. The initiative primarily aimed to provide much-needed financial support for the citizens of Istanbul during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform anonymously matches the donors with households that have outstanding utility bills. In just 31 hours, the campaign generated over 1 million USD (18,600,000 TL) and helped 57,423 people in Istanbul pay their water and gas bills.[15] "Bill on the Hook" is still keeping its popularity, mainly because a large number of households are still unable to pay their utility bills on time due to the current hyperinflation environment in Turkey.

Specialized literature[14] includes the following variables as contributing elements to the sustainability of entrepreneurship in the SSE:

  • Social factors. It is vital to acknowledge that belief systems should have solid grounds and also acknowledge the possible risk that particular designations may cause as to understand how social psychology contributes to the sociological growth and organizational strength.
  • Politics, religion, and culture. Within each historical and cultural heritage, it is important to ensure factors such as cultural legacy, ancient traditions, as well as the implementation of awareness, while also keeping a sense of community and identity.
  • Associativity. Associativity is a component of competition which enables the implementation of organisational structures that enable decision-making procedures centered on sustainability through time.
  • Education. Consequently, functionality of SSE will rely on the input of the involved stakeholders, on the learning programs that are tailored to the experience, literacy, and educational backgrounds of their staff.
  • Models of intervention in sustainable development. Models should not be uniform processes; rather, these should be created and implemented as part of collaborative initiatives under participatory operations.

Core values and principles[edit]

The RIPESS Charter[16] of the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy sets out eleven core values to promote the ethical and value-based economic model:

  1. Humanism – putting human beings, their dignity, culture and full development at the centre
  2. Democracy – promoting democratic values
  3. Solidarity – mobilizing resources and establishing relations with other social collectives
  4. Inclusiveness – establishing dialogue based on the respect for ideological differences
  5. Subsidiarity – promoting grassroots development to overcome common problems
  6. Diversity – encouraging representation of players of all sectors of society
  7. Creativity – promoting innovation that contribute to social change
  8. Sustainable Development – respecting the balance of the ecosystem by protecting the environment and biodiversity
  9. Equality, equity and justice for all - fighting against all forms of discrimination and oppression
  10. Respecting the integration of countries and people - opposing economic, political, and cultural domination of the North over the South
  11. A plural and solidarity-based economy - providing an alternative to the neoliberal economic model by taking actions towards a plural and solidarity-based economy

Also, sharing some of the above-mentioned points, six principles have been described in the REAS Charter for Solidarity Economy:[17]

  1. Principle of equity. Introduces an ethical or justice principle in equality. It is a value that recognizes all people as subjects of equal dignity and protects their right not to be subjected to relationships based on domination regardless of their social condition, gender, age, ethnicity, origin, ability, etc. Society must satisfy, in an equitable manner, the respective interests of all people.
  2. Principle of work. Work is a key element in the quality of life of people, community and economic relations between citizens and states. Importance of recovering the human, social, political, economic and cultural dimension of work that allows the development of people's capacities. Work is much more than a job or an occupation.
  3. Principle of environmental sustainability. All productive and economic activity is related to nature. The good relationship with nature is a source of economic wealth and health. Therefore, environmental sustainability must be integrated into all activities, evaluating the environmental impact (ecological footprint).
  4. Principle of cooperation. Cooperation instead of competition. Model of society based on harmonious local development and fair commercial relationships. Solidarity Economy is based on participatory and democratic ethics, which wants to promote learning and cooperative work between people and organizations.
  5. Principle of non-profit-making. The economic model to be pursued is aimed at the integral, collective and individual development of people, and as a means, the efficient management of economically viable, sustainable and profitable projects, whose benefits are reinvested and redistributed. This "non-profit-making" is closely linked to the way of measuring results, which take into account not only the economic aspects, but also the human, social, environmental, cultural and participatory aspects; and the final result is the comprehensive benefit.
  6. Principle of territorial responsibility. Participation in the sustainable local and community development of the territory. Organizations fully integrated into the territory and social environment in which they carry out their activities, which requires involvement in networks and cooperation with other organizations of the nearby social and economic fabric, within the same geographical area. This collaboration is a way for concrete positive and solidary experiences to transform the structures that generate inequality, domination and exclusion.

Challenges of a solidarity economy[edit]

Market relation pressures – As Solidarity Economy enterprises expand, it often becomes more immersed in market relations and global value chains, making it confront new pressures that force large SSE organizations to adopt practices that are characteristic of for-profit enterprise and dilute core SSE principles. An example of such a case could be the growing criticism of microcredit practices.

Informal economy vulnerability – Solidarity Economy interacts with the informal economy of atomized workers and producers a complex web of social relations. The challenge lies in transitioning out of this informality, transforming a wide array of informal social relations with multiple actors into governance and adopting necessary regulations.

Internal dynamics – Solidarity Economy organizations can be prone to elite capture and social exclusion. This might be because of the types of producers that integrate organizations such as cooperatives and/or due to the fact that those with better education and skills end up dominating governance structures.

Balancing multiple objectives – Solidarity Economy enterprises are required to balance a variety of potential objectives related to efficiency and equity, or economic, environmental, social and emancipatory dimensions. This could be made additionally difficult by the organization's membership homogeneity, misalignment of incentives between managers and members, increased reliance on external support etc.[18]

These initiatives' variety and fragmentation – For the social economy stakeholders/ institutions and their associated monetary sponsors, this is regarded as a regular difficulty. Certain strategies appear to be appropriate, whereas others seem to be less effective for the social economy, due to its increased heterogeneity of initiatives.[19]

Social economy businesses[edit]

Social economy businesses (SEB) are situated at the overlap of the social economy and the private sector. This kind of hybrid organisations earn all or some part of their income from the marketplace and they may be in competition with private sector organisations. As many businesses that are primarily viewed as part of a private sector have modified their business imperatives and taken on social business models, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between private sector and social economy businesses. The main difference with private sector organisations is that SEB are guided by social objectives that are reflected in their business mission and strategies and built into their structure. In other words, in case of SEB the prerogatives of capital do not dominate over the social objectives in the organization's decision making.[20]

Examples of organizations[edit]

The term social and solidarity economy alludes to a wide scope of organizations that are recognized from ordinary revenue driven venture, business and casual economy by two center highlights. To start with, they have unequivocal monetary and social (and frequently ecological) goals. Second, they include differing types of co-employable, affiliated and solidarity relations.[21] They include the following examples:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Utting, Peter (2015). Social and solidarity economy: Beyond the fringe. London: Zed Books. pp. 1–37. ISBN 978-1-78360-344-2.
  2. ^ Kalogeraki, Stefina; Papadaki, Marina; Pera Ros, Marina (April 19, 2018). "Exploring the Social and Solidarity Economy Sector in Greece, Spain, and Switzerland in Times of Crisis". American Behavioral Scientist. 62 (6): 856–874. doi:10.1177/0002764218768862. S2CID 150255108 – via SAGE Publications.
  3. ^ Egorov, Vladimir; Inshakov, Andrey (2021). Voroshilova, M.B.; Suetina, A.I. (eds.). "Cooperation as an integral part of the social and solidarity economy (SSE)". SHS Web of Conferences. 94: 01009. doi:10.1051/shsconf/20219401009. ISSN 2261-2424. S2CID 234332607.
  4. ^ Allard, J; Matthaei, J (n.d.). "The Solidarity Economy: An Introduction". Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  5. ^ "Solidarity Economy: An Overview," US Solidarity Economy Network Archived 2014-01-25 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c d Solidarity economy and social business : new models for a new society. Noriatsu Matsui, Yukio Ikemoto. Tokyo. 2015. ISBN 978-4-431-55471-4. OCLC 903014275.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ Ethan Miller (2009). "Solidarity Economy: Key Concepts and Issues" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-12-26.[dead link]
  8. ^ Primavera, Heloisa (2010). "Social Currencies and Solidarity Economy: An Enduring Bond of Common Good". WorkingUSA. 13 (1): 41–59. doi:10.1111/j.1743-4580.2010.00272.x. ISSN 1743-4580.
  9. ^ "The solidarity economy:an alternative development strateg" (PDF).
  10. ^ "What is Social Solidarity Economy". RIPESS. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  11. ^ Neamtan, Nancy (2002-06-14). "The Social and Solidarity Economy: Towards an 'Alternative' Globalisation" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  12. ^ E., Fernandez Lorenzo, Liliana (2005). Contabilidad social y gestion en Ongs. Universidad del Zulia, Vicerrectorado Academico. OCLC 820344439.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Dash, Anup (March 2014). "Toward an Epistemological Foundation for Social and Solidarity Economy". United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Occasional Paper 3.
  14. ^ a b González, Arturo Luque; Benavides, Paul Renato Solís; Sislema, Maria Bertha Aragadovay (2020). "The sustainability of entrepreneurship within the social and solidarity economy: an analysis of social factors". Revista Calitatea Vieții. 31 (1): 46–69. doi:10.46841/RCV.2020.01.04. ISSN 1844-5292. S2CID 229613112.
  15. ^ T-VINE, & Rowe, E. (2020, May 9). Istanbul mayor's 'pay it forward' campaign raises over $1 million in 2 days for city's poor. T-VINE. Retrieved from
  16. ^ "The RIPESS Charter" (PDF). RIPESS. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  17. ^ "Carta de la Economía Solidaria (REAS)" (PDF). Portal de Economía Solidaria. May 2011. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  18. ^ Utting, Peter; van Dijk, Nadine; Matheï, Marie-Adélaïde (August 2014). "Social and solidarity economy: Is there a new economy in the making?" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  19. ^ Bouchard, Marie J.; Rousselière, Damien (June 2022). "Recent advances on impact measurement for the social and solidarity economy: Empirical and methodological challenges". Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics. 93 (2): 253–266. doi:10.1111/apce.12380. ISSN 1370-4788. S2CID 249087436.
  20. ^ Quartet, Mook, Armstrong. Understanding the Social Economy: A Canadian Perspective.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Green, D (2013-04-29). "What is Social and Solidarity Economy and why does it matter?". From Poverty to Power. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  22. ^ RUEB, Emily (February 23, 2010). "A Trade School Where Ideas are Currency". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2015.

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