Transition within a transition: how cooperative platforms want to change the sharing economy

Scholars have argued that the sharing economy represents a transitional pathway to sustainability. The growth, however, of multi-national giants, such as Airbnb or Uber, has created new environmental, social, and economic problems and led many to question the dominant form of the sharing economy. In this paper, we study a transition within a transition—that is the emergence of a new niche of cooperative platforms within the sharing economy. We examine how promoters and followers of Fairbnb, a nascent cooperative alternative to Airbnb, frame and envision their project and then discuss tensions, debates, and limits around their ideas and business model. We find that their primary motivations are to mitigate the negative effects of mass tourism, to prevent the extraction of wealth from local economies, and to sustain a prosperous social business. Tensions are found around limitations of democratic governance, decentralization, and size of the project.

Sustainability Science, April 2020

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Mujeres en Movimiento en la perspectiva ecofeminista: descrecimiento y economía solidaria en Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brasil

El diálogo entre descrecimiento y economía solidaria revela una potencialidad creativa de cambios a nivel local y regional, actuando en la microeconomía por la vía del ecofeminismo. Tal experiencia señala la imposibilidad de que exista libertad, si los medios de producción están enganchados a cualquier forma de explotación, colonización o subordinación del otro, incluidas ahí las mujeres.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Retos para el surgimiento de las cooperativas en la Ciudad de México: Modernidad liquida vs ethos barroco

El objetivo de este documento – presentado durante el primer día de la Conferencia bajo la temática “Supervivencia” – es analizar qué tipo de cooperativismo está surgiendo en la Ciudad de México, retos y posibilidades de expansión, a través de una revisión contrastada del comportamiento social que analiza Bauman (2000) y Echeverría (2011).

Watercooler Democracy: Rumors and Transparency in a Cooperative Workplace

Abstract: This article examines how rumors impact democracy and transparency in a cooperative workplace. Although literature on rumors generally analyzes them as negative to workplace culture, the author argues that rumors constitute a critical aspect of democratic participation. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in a worker-recuperated business in Argentina, the author shows how members use rumors to incite deliberation, participate in decision-making, question organizational policy, and oversee managerial authority. Although informal communication at work can create uncertainty, confusion, and concerns about efficiency, the author finds that rumors can also increase worker influence, encourage organizational accountability, and ultimately protect against the consolidation of power.

Work and Occupations, July 2019

Common Good-Oriented Companies: Exploring Corporate Values, Characteristics and Practices That Could Support a Development Towards Degrowth

At present, little is known about the corporate characteristics that support a socio-economic development towards degrowth. Addressing this research gap, we conducted interviews with companies which have joined the Economy for the Common Good, a social movement which identifies the common good as the purpose of economic activity. Our analysis was guided by Latouche’s (2009) eight ‘R’s which, he claims, should trigger a transformation towards degrowth: re-evaluate, reconceptualize, restructure, redistribute, relocalize, reduce, re-use and recycle. Among the companies we studied, we observed a change in values in line with Latouche’s claim. In their management practices, the companies are guided by values such as fairness, cooperation, diversity, independence, democracy, transparency, and ecological sustainability. This is exemplified by democratic ownership and decision-making structures, cooperative trade relations, a preference for local suppliers and the redistribution of surpluses. Furthermore, for these companies, profits are of reduced significance as an indicator of success. Nevertheless, some companies in our sample do still consider further company growth to be necessary. But, as the limitation of the company’s size is just one possible way in which a company can contribute to an overall reduction in economic growth, the companies bear due to their compliance with Latouche´s strategies the potential to contribute to a societal transition towards degrowth.

Assessment of the potential of Renewable Energy Sources Cooperatives (RESCoops) in Spain towards Sustainable Degrowth

The transition to renewable energies is at the heart of the Sustainable Degrowth (SD) proposals due to its potential to relocalize and democratize the energy generation in a sustainable way. In this paper, we review the development and current situation of RESCoops in Spain, assessing their strengths, barriers and opportunities as a means towards SD. This is an interesting case study since, unlike other European countries, they have recently arisen in a regulatory and economic hostile context, which have induced particular organizational and operating structures.
We identify strengths coherent with SD in common with social enterprises such as the focus on satisfying needs rather than creating new ones, the high motivation and awareness of the members, and the capacity to provide social and environmental benefits. In terms of barriers to SD, we find difficulties to combine membership growth with participation, a low integration with other social enterprises and a risk of denaturation of the intended change. Also, within a growth paradigm, RESCoops may simply add new generation. We find a dominant perception that renewables could substitute fossil-fuel generation without challenging the system. Finally, not all renewable technologies might be compatible with SD. To date in Spain, RESCoops: (1) remain very minorital; (2) have barely managed to promote new generation; (3) have only focused on electricity; (4) show a weak collaboration between them. The reversal of these trends would increase their potential towards SD. Moreover, we find great opportunities to promote independent research about the energy transition and push towards a distributed energy generation system.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Assessment of the potential of Renewable Energy Sources Cooperatives (RESCoops) in Spain towards Sustainable Degrowth“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Critique to neoliberalism & orthodox economics

Short-interview with Nadia Johanisova from the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona.

Non-Growth Market Economies

Poster and transcription of an poster session by Stephan Wolf at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “Non-Growth Market Economies”.

Warum wir kooperieren

Seit vielen Jahrhunderten wird die Frage nach der Natur des Menschen von zwei grundsätzlichen Positionen bestimmt: Hobbes’ Meinung, daß die Menschen egoistisch zur Welt kommen und die Gesellschaft sie zur Kooperation erziehen muß, und Rousseaus Darstellung, nach der die Menschen von Natur aus kooperativ sind und später von ihrem Umfeld zu Egoisten gemacht werden. In Warum wir kooperieren berichtet Tomasello von wegweisenden Studien mit Kindern und Schimpansen, die neues Licht auf diese uralte Frage werfen. Kinder sind von Geburt an hilfsbereit und kooperativ, lernen aber im Laufe ihres Heranwachsens, eher selektiv zu kooperieren und beginnen den sozialen Normen ihrer Gruppe zu folgen.
(Beschreibung des Verlags)


ISBN: 978-3-518-26036-4

Changing Agriculture: Food Sovereignty of the territories in response to the energy crisis and the new world revolution

Part of the introduction: In México, one of the most agriculturally-based countries in the Americas, there is a growing tendency among rural farmers to promote a new type of rurality. This new approach aims to solve their ecological, economic and social problems through actions that encourage a de-growth instead of a sustainable growth in development. In this essay I aim to contribute to an understanding of the ways in which the agroecological cooperative Las Cañadas redefined the goals of twenty-two small producers in Veracruz, México. In an effort to improve their livelihoods, they shifted their methods of food production during a time in the 90s in which the country faced a backdrop of challenges including the opening of markets and institutional reforms. This is primarily an empirical essay, intended to
present collected data on the cooperative during the period of 1996-2012.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.

The Promise of “Open Co-operativism”

From the text: Is it possible to imagine a new sort of synthesis or synergy between the emerging peer production and commons movement on the one hand, and growing, innovative elements of the co-operative and solidarity economy movements on the other?
That was the animating question behind a two-day workshop, “Toward an Open Co-operativism,” held in August 2014 and now chronicled in a new report by UK co-operative expert Pat Conaty and me. [. . .] The workshop was convened because the commons movement and peer production share a great deal with co-operatives….but they also differ in profound ways. Both share a deep commitment to social cooperation as a constructive social and economic force. Yet both draw upon very different histories, cultures, identities and aspirations in formulating their visions of the future. There is great promise in the two movements growing more closely together, but also significant barriers to that occurring.

L’altra faccia dell’Arancia

L’altra faccia dell’Arancia from FedericoDeMusso on Vimeo. Published with a Creative Commons license.

Title: The other oranges.
Solidarity consumer group in Italy, self-organised supply with producers of the region.
Only in italian, no subtitles.

Titel: Die anderen Orangen
Solidarische Einkaufsgruppen in Italien, selbstorganisierte Versorgung mit Erzeugern aus der Region.
Nur auf italienisch, keine Untertitel.

Changing the economic system embracing degrowth – for global justice and democracy

This media entry is a stirring paper of the Group Assembly Process (GAP) at the Degrowth Conference in Leipzig in 2014.

This paper belongs the group Solidarity Economy, Cooperatives and Social Business.

GAP working group 2014 – Solidarity Economy, Cooperatives and Social Business

Results from the GAP (Group Assembly Process) Group Solidarity Economy, Cooperatives and Social Business at the Degrowth Conference in Leipzig 2014

> We have to get rid of large scale “for-profit” corporations.
> Make an economy in the sense of “people before profit”.

> What role can private Enterprise play in the Transition towards Solidarity Economy?
> Alternative Enterprises as bottom up powers, together with social movements and civil society
> Legal Framework?
> Localization?
> Consumer Awareness?

Stirring papers:
> Changing the economic system embracing degrowth – for global justice and democracy
> Introducing the Not-for-Profit World Economic Model

More information and possibilities to engage!

Gemüsekooperative Rote Beete

Gemüsekooperative Rote Beete [Vegetable Cooperative „Rote Beete“] from Marc Menningmann on Vimeo.

Eine Exkursion während der Degrowth Konferenz führte die Teilnehmer zur Gemüsekooperative “Rote Beete”, die ein paar Kilometer außerhalb von Leipzig liegt. Hier wurde gezeigt wie solidarische Landwirtschaft funktioniert. Außerdem ist ein großer Teil des Gemüses, das auf der Degrowth Konferenz verzehrt wurde, hier angebaut worden.