1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Beyond Alternative Food Networks: An Agenda for Comparative Analysis of Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups (SPG) and Districts of Solidarity Economy vis-à-vis US Community Economies (Draft)


CORES is an interdisciplinary research group that investigates the sociocultural and economic factors underlying a variety of solidarity-driven consumption networks and their efforts to scale up to novel and sustainable economic circuits. The methodologies employed (survey, participant observation and in-depth interviews) have contributed to mapping Solidarity Purchase Groups in Italy, and to assessing their strategies and limits in developing new economic circuits. This paper focuses on social and solidarity economies in Italy, comparing quantitative and qualitative data about Lombardy, northern/southern Italian networks of solidarity economy. It proposes several points of comparison between current solidarity economy networks in Italy and the United States, based on available research on Lombardy and Massachusetts.

Cristina Grasseni is Assistant Professor at Bergamo University and currently Visiting Scholar and Department Affiliate of the Anthropology Department of Harvard University (2012-2014). She was previously David and Roberta Logie Fellow and Harvard Film Study Center Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2011/12). Her monograph Beyond Alternative Food Networks: Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups is forthcoming.

Francesca Forno is Assistant Professor at Bergamo University, where she teaches sociology and sociology of consumption. She has published on citizen politics and social movements. Two of her ongoing research interests are political consumerism and sustainable community movements. A special focus is on the consequences of the spread of market-based forms of action for citizens’ participation and mobilization.

Silvana Signori is Assistant Professor at Bergamo University, in the Department of Management, Economics and Quantitative Methods. Her main areas of research are ethical investment, business ethics and corporate social responsibility, non-profit organization accounting and accountability. She is a founder member of the Italian chapter of EBEN (European Business Ethics Network) of which she is currently Executive Secretary.