An Ecological Economics Inquiry into the Social and Solidarity Economy - Insights from an Action Research

Lazányi, Orsolya (2022) An Ecological Economics Inquiry into the Social and Solidarity Economy - Insights from an Action Research. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Gazdálkodástani Doktori Iskola. DOI

PDF : (dissertation)
PDF : (draft in English)
PDF : (az értekezés tézisei magyar nyelven)

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The research aims to link the social and solidarity economy (SSE) with the critical ecological discourse. The practice- and movement-based theory of SSE promotes a systemic change, social transformation toward an environmentally and socially just future through resisting and building alternatives to the prevailing economic system, the market economy. The research gap which has been identify during literature review reveals that, from a radical ecological perspective the SSE practices have been poorly explored. To fill this research gap, based on the interdisciplinary approach of ecologic economics, I critically review ‘How the ecological aspects can theoretically and practically be included in the SSE?’ – which is the research question of the research. The conceptual framework of the research is based on the radical sustainability approach following the pre-analytical vision of ecological economics which builds on the strong hierarchy between the economic, social and natural domain. The implications of the radical sustainability on SSE initiatives was explored through the operation of the Cargonomia collective, in Hungary, Budapest during an action research. Action research allows to explore social phenomena through democratic knowledge creation, participation and intervention into lives of communities, organizations or individuals. During the presented action research, five members of the Cargonomia collective engaged themselves between 2016 and 2018 to deepen understanding about the operation of the organization while improve its performance and conceptualize the lived experience through theoretical-analytical concepts which contributes to scientific knowledge creation. The empirical results of the action research reveal how ecological aspects can be included in the SSE theoretically and practically, which are the following: 1. Respecting certain environmental principles SSE initiatives can follow certain environmental principles to comply with the radical sustainability approach. Such environmental aspects which can be applied by SSE initiatives are related to reducing energy and resource consumption, downsizing material consumption, usage of viable technologies, localization and the personal behaviour of the members. 2. Dealing with contradictions The empirical research revealed that an alternative initiative committed to radical sustainability faces many contradictions in addition to the potential achievements. Both achievements and failures can contribute to learn and enhance sustainability if they reflected upon. The strategies of the Cargonomia collective (exploring viable alternatives, accepting compromises and rejecting activities) can serve as guides for further exploring and implementing coping strategies. The ability to critically reflect on analytical-conceptual issues (such as on the complex question of sustainability) through daily activities of an organization can be supported by action research methodology as presented through the empirical case. Nevertheless, the empirical results reveal that sustainability is not an achievement at a point in time, but rather a journey over time which requires continuous negotiation, learning, reflecting, evaluating and adapting 3. Applying an organizational structure which allows to prioritize environmental and social values over financial gains The prioritization of environmental principles becomes possible through the organizational structure of alternative organizations. The empirical research highlighted three of the aspects of the organizational structure which enables SSE initiatives to follow the radical approach to sustainability, which are (i) democratic governance accompanied by critical-self-reflective discussion and debates, (ii) staying small and (iii) applying a plural economic model which enables to create a balance between different resources building on reciprocal relations, redistribution, market exchange and the combination of these. 4. Redefining the meaning of work The empirical results demonstrated the potential of SSE initiatives to redefine the meaning of work. Work in the empirical case is not primarily marked by monetary income, but by the value which is created for the local community, by joy and by meaningful activities. The diversity of provisioning, reciprocal relations which describe the participation in SSE initiatives, can be conceptualized as the decommodification of work. The implications of decommodifying work in relation to sustainability is that, it can shape social imaginaries and decouple well-being from material consumption.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Pataki György
Subjects:Environmental economics
ID Code:1215
Date:7 September 2022
Deposited On:25 Apr 2022 13:34
Last Modified:28 Nov 2022 09:05

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