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Complementary currencies have emerged as social policy tools in a number of countries in the last 15 years. This article examines the performance of Green Dollar Exchanges in New Zealand/Aotearoa in a neoliberal environment where fiscal ‘imperatives’ led to state provision of welfare being curtailed in favour of delivery by organisations within civil society through self-help. It argues that, while self-help does have a place within overall welfare provision, voluntary mechanisms failed to fill the gap left by state withdrawal. Consequently, an over-optimistic perspective of the contribution of mutual aid organisations in meeting welfare needs as an alternative to, rather than complementary to, state provision is problematic.

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This chapter focuses on the reality of rhetoric of community involvement in urban-regeneration partnership in Great Britain. It evaluates the effectiveness of Elephant Links Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) and Project Vauxhall, two resident-based organisations that claimed to represent local people and use confrontational tactics. The chapter investigates whether these organisations were able to advance the arguments they made using these tactics, and whether they could have advanced them more effectively within or outside the partnership. It argues that early regeneration policy under Tony Blair’s first term as Prime Minister was characterised as an uncritical and poorly conceptualised idea of community.

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Building on the diverse economies perspective of JK Gibson-Graham, this chapter discusses how conceptions of just and sustainable economies in the context of the Anthropocene can be generated and, more importantly, performed through social and solidarity economies in the global North. It reviews concepts of the SSE in the global North, and discusses the extent that the UK social economy sector has been tamed and neoliberalised as more antagonistic conceptions of co-operative and grassroots economies created by green and socialist activists in the 1970s and 1980s have been transformed into neoliberal conceptions of social enterprise, with an inbuilt assumption that the private sector is more effective than the public. It discusses how in conditions of austerity social enterprise can legitimate the abandonment of socially excluded communities, and that to counter this, the social economy sector in the UK should develop more antagonistic perspectives, learning from Latin Americans. Finally, it discusses the contribution of Transition Initiatives in rekindling conceptions of grassroots sustainable economies.

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The social and solidarity economy North and South

With capitalism in crisis - rising inequality, unsustainable resource depletion and climate change all demanding a new economic model - the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) has been suggested as an alternative. What can contribute in terms of generating livelihoods that provide a dignified life, meeting of social needs and building of sustainable futures? What can activists in both the global North and South learn from each other?

In this volume academics from a range of disciplines and from a number of European and Latin American countries come together to question what it means to have a ‘sustainable society’ and to ask what role these alternative economies can play in developing convivial, humane and resilient societies, raising some challenging questions for policy-makers and citizens alike.

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The need to avoid dangerous climate change whilst meeting the needs of millions in the global north and south suggests that a new economic model is required. Social and solidarity economies have been suggested as an alternative to the failed models of both public and private enterprise. What can they contribute in terms of offering the hope of an economy that includes all, in ways that free markets don’t? Can social and solidarity economies meet social needs, and the building of a sustainable future? How can the state, civil society, universities and local governments support, or retard, the development of social and solidarity economies? What can activists in the late-capitalist economies of the North learn from the experience of the global South, where the welfare state has always been much more limited and society is often on the receiving end of neo-liberal exploitation and unequal power relationships? How can activists in the global South learn from northern social enterprises? In this volume academics from a range of disciplines and from both Europe and the Americas come together to debate these issues and raise some challenging questions for policy-makers and citizens in the global north and south alike.

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The need to avoid dangerous climate change whilst meeting the needs of millions in the global north and south suggests that a new economic model is required. Social and solidarity economies have been suggested as an alternative to the failed models of both public and private enterprise. What can they contribute in terms of offering the hope of an economy that includes all, in ways that free markets don’t? Can social and solidarity economies meet social needs, and the building of a sustainable future? How can the state, civil society, universities and local governments support, or retard, the development of social and solidarity economies? What can activists in the late-capitalist economies of the North learn from the experience of the global South, where the welfare state has always been much more limited and society is often on the receiving end of neo-liberal exploitation and unequal power relationships? How can activists in the global South learn from northern social enterprises? In this volume academics from a range of disciplines and from both Europe and the Americas come together to debate these issues and raise some challenging questions for policy-makers and citizens in the global north and south alike.

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The need to avoid dangerous climate change whilst meeting the needs of millions in the global north and south suggests that a new economic model is required. Social and solidarity economies have been suggested as an alternative to the failed models of both public and private enterprise. What can they contribute in terms of offering the hope of an economy that includes all, in ways that free markets don’t? Can social and solidarity economies meet social needs, and the building of a sustainable future? How can the state, civil society, universities and local governments support, or retard, the development of social and solidarity economies? What can activists in the late-capitalist economies of the North learn from the experience of the global South, where the welfare state has always been much more limited and society is often on the receiving end of neo-liberal exploitation and unequal power relationships? How can activists in the global South learn from northern social enterprises? In this volume academics from a range of disciplines and from both Europe and the Americas come together to debate these issues and raise some challenging questions for policy-makers and citizens in the global north and south alike.

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The need to avoid dangerous climate change whilst meeting the needs of millions in the global north and south suggests that a new economic model is required. Social and solidarity economies have been suggested as an alternative to the failed models of both public and private enterprise. What can they contribute in terms of offering the hope of an economy that includes all, in ways that free markets don’t? Can social and solidarity economies meet social needs, and the building of a sustainable future? How can the state, civil society, universities and local governments support, or retard, the development of social and solidarity economies? What can activists in the late-capitalist economies of the North learn from the experience of the global South, where the welfare state has always been much more limited and society is often on the receiving end of neo-liberal exploitation and unequal power relationships? How can activists in the global South learn from northern social enterprises? In this volume academics from a range of disciplines and from both Europe and the Americas come together to debate these issues and raise some challenging questions for policy-makers and citizens in the global north and south alike.

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This concluding chapter draws together lessons learned from the encounters between social economy activists and academics from Latin America and Europe which were brought together in this collection. It discusses the role of antagonism in social economies, especially in the light of austerity in Europe – and Latin America’s experiences of a lost decade. It discusses tensions between the benefits of top down, centralised, state delivered welfare, and grassroots creativity, arguing for the development of 45 degree politics that maintains the best of both conceptions, with the state maintaining universal access and sufficient resources, while grassroots actors ensure that initiatives are tailored to local needs. Finally it brings together arguments for the need for the SSE sector to develop conceptions of prosperous livelihoods providing dignity and inclusion for those currently denied a livelihood with dignity in the concept of the Anthropocene. It concludes by arguing that these conceptions can best be developed though continued dialogue between actors in the global North and South.

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This chapter sets the scene for the edited collection which follows it, recounting the findings of an international conversation on the social and solidarity economies between participants from Europe and Latin America. It discusses problems and possibilities for learning and policy transference between different places, acknowledging the power relations involved between global north and south, centre and periphery. It introduces a four part conceptualisation of the social and solidarity economy sector between Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurship; the inclusive Social Economy; the Solidarity Economy, working on conceptions of how we want to live in a climate constrained world, and the Antagonistic Economy, challenging pathological aspects of contemporary neoliberalism.

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