1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Towards an Epistemological Foundation for Social and Solidarity Economy (Draft)



In the absence of epistemological and conceptual advances with strong ontological foundations, the author argues, SSE cannot go very far in framing discourses and in engaging with the bigger picture, as an alternative to the crises-ridden dominant economic paradigm. Orthodox economics, with its ontological construct of homo economicus and logical positivist epistemology, severely constrains our cognitive abilities to imagine economic alternatives, through which local communities rebuild their fractured lives, regenerate their local economies, restore their social and ethical values, and carve out their own democratic space and a more sustainable and better future—in short, "put a moral brake on capitalism". Today’s context holds great promise for an epistemological revolution to construct a coherent theoretical framework for SSE with strong explanatory power, which would give us the confidence to think of SSE more boldly and to develop SSE as a new scientific theory for explaining, organizing and developing well-governed sustainable institutional practices with a fundamental change in the intent and content of our economic life.

Anup Dash is Professor in Sociology at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India, and Member-Secretary of the Center for Youth and Social Development (CYSD), a leading NGDO in India. His current interests, in research and practice, include social economy, self-help groups and microfinance, civic action, volunteering and active citizenship, decentralization, development and impact.