Emergent forms of social economy: old or new paradigm?
Marta Lobato (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Paper short abstract:
Capitalism and high finance within an increasing inter-connected world and rapidly changing socio-cultural dynamics provokes and engages with economic diversity, inequality and value-building processes that are in need of explanation; how can the anthropology of economy make sense of such complex reality?
Paper long abstract:
The global political and economic turmoil Southern Europe has experienced since 2008 proposes a series of interesting issues that the anthropology of economy could tackle in an illuminating manner. Social and economic changes brought about by the credit crunch and the severe austerity measures advanced in Southern Europe have left us with images of unprecedented social unrest, but also with the emergence of new socio-economic initiatives that try to amend the gaps that the formal economy is leaving behind. Interestingly, such phenomenon seems to be twofold and operating at different levels within society; State actions prompted by neoliberal policies are provoking changes in people's purchasing power and statuses, thus opening up new opportunities in areas the formal market had not previously overseen. Similarly, grassroots initiatives with a strong ideological component that have arisen either as a response to the increasing process of neoliberal policies and the global capitalist market during the 90's or as a direct response to the ongoing economic crisis, are also attempting to counteract the nature and consequences brought about by the present system. In both cases, there is interplay of different regimes of value, by dragging the economy to a more familiar and accountable sphere of life, but what form is this interplay of regimes of value taking? Could previously widely used analytical concepts such as "embededdness", "globalization" or "spheres of exchange" throw some light in the configuration of these emergent forms? Where does the so called "social economy" fit in?
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