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Law, Solidarity and Alternative Economies


Module description

Solidarity economy is a growing international field. From twentieth-century experiments with mutual aid and workers' control, solidarity economics has diversified into an expanding field of alternative forms of economic organisation. Neither wedded to capitalist imperatives nor in business for profit or expanded surplus values, solidarity economy is seeking out ways of ensuring communal wellbeing around ethical forms of production, consumption and distribution that are neither exploitative of people nor destructive of the environment. Moreover, solidarity economics is about doing: it comes out of practices rather than blueprints, and creates networks for sharing knowledges and new ways of acting.

This module provides an introduction to this area with a focus on alternative forms of ‘business’ organisation, re-thinking banking, finance and money and dynamic forms of social solidarity that replace charity. The point of the module is to engage with the challenge of solidaristic ways of thinking, and to turn thought into action.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Solidarity Economy: Introduction
  • Alternatives to the Corporation: Mondragon and its Discontents
  • Workers' Cooperatives and Other Forms of Worker Control
  • Money, Banking and Alternatives
  • The Emmaus Model: Social Enterprise
  • Lessons From Latin America
  • The Mutual Aid Tradition
  • Re-thinking Economics from the Perspective of Social Solidarity

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand and appreciate the historical context for the emergence of solidarity economy
  • understand and critically evaluate the basic values of solidarity economy
  • understand and critically evaluate the traditions of social and economic thinking that feed into solidarity economy
  • critically analyse the practices and ethics of Mondragon
  • understand and critically analyse alternative approaches to banking and finance
  • draw on the mutual aid tradition to critically engage with alternative ideas of social and economic organisation
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of alternatives to charity, using the Emmaus International organisation as an example
  • understand economics from a solidarity, rather than a conventional, perspective.