The concept of solidarity economy has diverse origins and varied meanings, all of which revolve around the effort to root economic activity in principles of solidarity, participation, cooperation, and reciprocity as opposed to the competitive individualism characteristic of mainstream capitalist paradigms.
While incredibly diverse, [solidarity economy] initiatives share a broad set of values that stand in bold contrast to those of the dominant economy. Instead of enforcing a culture of cutthroat competition, they build cultures and communities of cooperation. Rather than isolating us from one another, they foster relationships of mutual support and solidarity. In place of centralized structures of control, they move us towards shared responsibility and directly democratic decision-making. Instead of imposing a single global monoculture, they strengthen the diversity of local cultures and environments. Instead of prioritizing profit over all else, they encourage commitment to broader work for social, economic, and environmental justice.1
The Solidarity Economy … refers to cooperative, collective and non-profit, democratically-controlled enterprises, that emphasize the primacy of people over capital and embrace a philosophy of empowerment, equality and inclusivity.2
The Solidarity Economy is an alternative development framework that is grounded in practice and in the principles of: solidarity, mutualism, and cooperation; equity in all dimensions (race/ethnicity/nationality, class, gender, LGBTQ); social well-being over profit and the unfettered rule of the market; sustainability; social and economic democracy; and pluralism, allowing for different forms in different contexts, open to continual change and driven from the bottom-up.3
1 Miller, Ethan. “Solidarity Economy: Key Concepts and Issues.” In Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet, edited by Emily Kawano, Tom Masterson and Jonathan Teller-Ellsberg. Amherst, MA: Center for Popular Economics. 2010.
2 Neamtan, Nancy. “Growing the Solidarity Economy.” Excerpt from her talk at the US Social Forum. http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/pdf/AfDJR5102.pdf
3 US Solidarity Economy Network. “What is the Solidarity Economy?” http://www.ussen.org/solidarity/what