We define the Social and Solidarity Economy as a collective of non-state companies (in the sense of structured activities involving women and men engaged in a common project) based on equality, democratic management, non-profit, but also, according to our conception, consciously engaged in a movement of social and ecological transformation.
A social and unified economy, a cooperative economy, a popular economy...
There are different names throughout the world, globally applicable to the same realities defined above, even if they only scratch the surface of political positions that cannot be compared to one another.
From India to Quebec, from Japan to Italy, the Social and Solidarity Economy gathers citizens’ responses to the economic, social, environmental and cultural needs of populations and forms the basis for democratic alternatives.
From the concept of associationism, the commonly accepted definition of the term "social economy" was the aggregate of cooperatives, mutual societies and associations. These various forms have more or less developed in all parts of the world, reaching a dominant position for the various forms of cooperation.
But developments have taken place: in several countries, the Social and
Solidarity Economy has been extended to "foundations" (of which we know the heterogeneity) and to social entrepreneurship (of which we know the ambiguities). It is for this reason that the purpose of production, around the general interest, must be articulated with a democratic functioning.
Other approaches are emerging, particularly regarding the commons (more according to the conception of Dardot and Laval than the approaches of community economy as defended by Elinor Olstrom) or self-management.
Intercoll works to set up specific groups based on these last two concepts, groups which Intercoll Social and Solidarity Economy should regularly work with.
Historically, ‘necessity’ gave birth to the Social Economy.
It was constituted and progressively extended on the basis of collective citizen initiatives against a world dominated by liberal violence and the indifference of the states towards them.
In parallel with the initiatives of the solidarity institutions (from the philanthropic movements), these pragmatic initiatives have developed around unified objectives that are at times very modest. The first aim of the investment plans in the world was the financing of funerals; in France one of the first French mutual aid societies was called "The penny of the shroud".
These popular initiatives adopted forms, then statutes, based on equality, democracy, solidarity and disinterestedness out of necessity. In the nineteenth century, the thinkers of social transformation met, in particular the "utopian socialists" who "equipped them", without, however, ever defining a theory of the social economy.
In every country of the world, they are registered in their social movement. In a number of countries (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, etc.), mutual and cooperative societies were often linked formally or informally to the dominant labour party or union.
In France, where this link has not been established, however, there are many associative, cooperative and mutualist militants in the proclamation and work of the Commune in 1870, or the creation of the Labour Exchange, the prefigurations of workers’ syndicalism.
It is through the social movement at the international level that these dynamic forms have established links with similar forms at their borders and beyond. These approaches, based on the commitment of both genders at the heart of their societies, were confronted with the evolutions and constraints of their time. Human institutions have more or less integrated their growth and diversification.
They have known and are still experiencing dynamic phases, tendencies towards banalisation in capitalist environment, institutionalisation and a productivist view of the economy. But at the same time when structures were distancing themselves from their pact, the values and principles that had founded them, and even renounced them, others rediscovered the first dynamics.
We want to engage with INTERCOLL Social and Solidarity Economy on the maintained or emerging forms, as we would participate in them or as we know them within the social forces in motion.
The World Social Forums, the various manifestations of international solidarity, the new transformative approaches around the central issue of non-state collective ownership and the new rights to be recognised are at the heart of our approach. This is not to ignore the fact that institutional events such as the International Year of Cooperatives in 2012 or the Rencontres du Mont-Blanc (International Forum of Social and Solidarity Economy Leaders) can show the convergence between new and traditional forms.
To a large extent, these convergences and dynamics are based on an emancipatory political reflection to think and to equip, under the conditions of our time, the citizen and popular initiatives of the Social and Solidarity Economy, like what is accomplished in the heart of the 19th century.
Intercoll Social and Solidarity Economy, like all Intercoll working groups, initially engages in the inventory of digital tools derived from, or able to participate in, Social and Solidarity Economy movements involved in social and ecological transformation. The identification and regular publication of significant articles of the movements in progress, with a view to building up a vast network of exchanges around the Social and Solidarity Economy in order to co-construct an international thought from the perspective of emancipation.