AFSE 2009 in practice


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What is Solidarity Economy?

‘Solidarity economy’ has gradually gained currency in today’s international scene. This term was first coined in the annual World Social Forums (2001 to 2008), an open forum for global justice and alternative globalisation movements, and is rapidly diffused to several regions of the world including Latin America and EU.

Economic globalisation multiplies the number of the poor, violates human rights, and destroys the environment, whilst allowing the well-off minority to accumulate wealth. The problem with the present global situation is twofold. Whilst a restructuring of economic and political systems is taking place through marketisation, economic liberalisation and the replacement of welfare state with the small government, social and ecological disintegration is proportionately increasing, including natural disasters and climate change, the decline of local economies, and the rise of income disparity that can be characterised as ‘the market failure’. This disequilibrium and precariousness in and of our growth economy-based societies impose even more burdens on the socially weak and prepare a potential, if not direct, explosion of wars and conflicts. Sadly, our world is far from a place where peace is established.

In facing this reality, ‘solidarity economy’, which is in itself proposed by civil societies across the world, serves as a concept that endorses a civil monitoring of the ‘failure’ of the market economy. One of the main objectives of solidarity economy is to supervise the transparency and accountability in the behaviours of the government as well as in the functioning of the market. The solidarity economy demands the government to carry out public policies and, so does it demand the private corporations to take social responsibility for their economic activities. Furthermore, it encourages various non-profit activities in civil society, including social and community enterprises, fair trade, the NPO activities, civic finance, local currencies and environmental protection. Thus, the solidarity economy serves as a platform for practising alternative socio-economic activities, chief among these are the revitalisation of local economies and the creation of employment through the democratisation of local communities; human capital training; gender equality; social inclusion as well as the strengthening of human rights of migrants and overseas residents, whose number is growing in the age of globalisation, and of the people who are often characterised as ‘the weak’.
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