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Cosmopolis lunch seminar with P.North (Liverpool): Diverse utopias of social enterprise – towards social, solidarity and antagonistic economies

17 May 2018 , 12.00-13.30h VUB: Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Building D, Promotiezaal D2.01

This paper develops a conceptualisation of the extent that social and solidarity economy (SSE) practices are antagonistic to, complementary to, or extending for-profit sectors of the capitalist economy.  It advances a fourfold conceptualisation of the SSE sector in order to understand which elements of the sector specifically contribute to the creation of economically just and sustainable economies that allow their proponents live with peace, justice and dignity while safeguarding the ability of future generations and other species to do the same in the context of the Anthropocene.   Distinctions are drawn between (1) social enterprise, (perhaps) rethinking entrepreneurialism; (2) the social economy, including those ‘left out’ or ‘behind’; (3) the solidarity, community or diverse economy, focusing on how we want to live with dignity in the Anthropocene; and (4) the antagonistic economy, challenging (particularly Anglo-Saxon) neoliberalism’s malignant effects.   The SSE sector is identified as a site of innovation and contestation in which actually-existing varieties of non-capitalist market economies are being developed which, their protagonists claim, show that ‘another world is possible’ – but which parts of SSE practice fundamentally challenge the interests of capital such that they might be repressed; which progress those interests; and which are of little interest to capital that has abandoned millions through ‘accumulation by dispossession’?

Speaker: Peter North, University of Liverpool

Pete North is Reader in Alternative Economies. He gained his BA in History and Politics in 1984. After a few years working for the Departments of Employment, Trade and Industry, and Environment, he gained his MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford (1993) and his PhD from the School for Advanced Urban Studies at the University of Bristol (1997). He was a post-doctoral Research Associate on a project on Local Business Representation in Local Economic Development at the University of Sheffield (1996-7). Between 1997 and 2002 he was Senior Research Fellow at the Local Economy Policy Unit at South Bank University. He joined the University of Liverpool in 2002. His research focuses on: (1) Low carbon transitions at the city and community level, especially processes of policy formation and partnership working between the public, private and community sectors around strategies for local economic development within an overall framework of resource constraint, climate change and economic crisis; (2) the politics of climate change and ecologically-focused social movements engaged in struggles about the implications of anthropogenic climate change and resource constraints for both humans and the wider ecosystems upon which we depend; and, (3) using micropolitical and ‘economic alterity’ frameworks, the social and solidarity economies as tools for constructing and rethinking alternative geographies of money, entrepreneurship, and livelihoods.