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The presentation aims to give insights into the emergence of local cooperatives and social enterprises in peripheralized areas in Germany, where both the profit-oriented economy and the public sector are failing to solve urgent needs and local people are implementing new economic approaches based on participatory and solidary principles. In this sense, the founders of such cooperatives and social enterprises are acting in an area of conflict: On the one hand as victims of market and government failures but likewise as pioneers of transformation towards a more social and local embedded way of economy.

My PhD thesis considers this phenomenon from three perspectives: (1) the individuals who are responsible for the foundation, their backgrounds and their motives, in particular in terms of social transformation, (2) the supporting networks and the relationships among the involved actors and (3) the formal (e.g. supporting policies on different spatial scales) and informal (e.g. trust within the local community) institutional context conditions, which have influence on the foundation. Following the argument, that economic activities of individuals are embedded in and interrelated to specific social and institutional context conditions (see e.g. Polanyi, Granovetter), these three perspectives are not regarded independently but conceptual combined in a multidimensional way.

In the presentation I like to provide a theoretical/conceptual framework of my PhD thesis as well as illustrate first empirical results out of a qualitative investigation (acquired by interviews and ego-centered network analysis).

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „The Emergence of Local Cooperatives and Social Enterprises in Peripheralized Areas in Germany – Motives, Actor Constellations and Institutional Context Conditions“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.