This research article addresses the role of processes of normative regulation, driven by distinct approaches to collective action and underlying narratives of social change, in the construction of “solidarity economy” initiatives as parallel spatialities to that of the mainstream economy.
This article is based on a comparative case study analysis, informed by aspects of the Grounded Theory and Extended Case Study methods, of an ecovillage, an alternative commercialization network and an “integral cooperative”. The analysis is illustrated with fieldwork data on food production, commercialization and consumption, given its centrality in the construction of human livelihoods and lifeworld.
The resulting conceptual framework identifies three methodologies of normative regulation: Prefigurative social technologies and capitalizing upon power and reputation to exert influence over other economic actors; being part of a wider class-based emancipatory political project; mobilizing online peer-to-peer platforms and community currencies to construct an alternative institutionality.
This article constitutes an exploratory analysis. Further research, based on the application of mixed methodologies to larger samples, will further expand the setup and applicability of these concepts.
This analysis will allow scholars and practitioners alike to gain a deeper understanding of how different approaches to collective action, based on distinct structural standpoints and narratives of change, constitute alternative economic spatialities to those of the mainstream economy.
The comparative approach used in this article, as well as the resulting concepts, have the potential of contributing to the convergence of “solidarity economy” strategies between initiatives and movements with different approaches to collective action, therefore contributing to improve their capacity to exercise influence upon incumbent institutional regimes, as well as promote socio-economic change.
This article aims to bridge a significant gap in the understanding of how “solidarity economy”-based parallel spatialities emerge and coexist with the mainstream economy: It analyses how processes of normative regulation result from narratives of change with distinct approaches to collective action, based on the standpoint of actors located differently within structural power relations.