Putting people back into the economy: Urban restructuring and emerging alternatives in time of crisis
Abstract: In many cities around the world, the financial crisis 2007 served as an opportunity both for grassroots movements and governments to rethink existing models of urban development. Some authors have pointed out that the crisis served to elevate discourses for progressive post-neoliberal urban transformations. Other, more sceptical accounts have pointed at the shift towards participative, networked governance and the introduction of green and socially “innovative” planning as just another phase in the ongoing neoliberal restructuring of cities. In Barcelona, a broad-based coalition of actors, including the local government and activists, has developed a city-wide strategy for socio-economic local development based on plural economy and participative modes of governance. The social and solidarity economy has been put in the centre for this development. This study aims to critically explore how the politics on the social and solidarity economy could contribute to social justice in local development. By exploring spatial patterns and discursive mechanisms in politics and practice of the social and solidarity economy this study forms a contextually sensitive analysis to understand how the social and solidarity economy responds to needs of disadvantaged groups in the city. The results of the study show that the social and solidarity economy in Barcelona is contributing to a more just local development by redistributing influence over local development from individual, private and financial actors to collective social needs. By repositioning the meaning of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, from a primarily individual undertaking to a collective form of civil society action, it strengthens already existing forms of economies that traditionally have not been seen as a part of the market.
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