chapter  7
The social and solidarity economy sector
A bottom-up alternative?
WithJennifer Eschweiler, Lars Hulgård
Pages 23

This chapter gives an overview of recent conceptual and empirical work on solidarity economy (SE), which has been attracting increasing interest since the 2008 economic crisis. The focus of this sector on collective governance and on the social and economic inclusion of vulnerable members of society through a mix of reciprocity, redistribution, and market mechanisms makes it an alternative model of economic production and consumption. Solidarity in this case constitutes a ‘constructed solidarity’ based on voluntary participation in formalised and informal collective action. The challenge is to conceptualise a phenomenon that has a multitude of practical expressions, a strong dependence on institutional contexts, and is mostly locally based. Nevertheless, the solidarity economy offers a powerful counter-discourse and promising local alternatives to the subordination of citizen activity under the market logic in a globalised world, provided that new relationships between citizen-based initiatives and organisations, the state, and the economy are allowed to emerge.