1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Regional Policy Frameworks of Social Solidarity Economy in South America (Draft)



This paper looks at how the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) discourse has been deployed at the regional level by UNASUR and MERCOSUR, and the implications of these policy frameworks for the advancement of SSE practices. Though civil society groups have presented SSE as a new economic paradigm, regional policy frameworks implement it as an add-on or complement to dominant capitalist economies. This happens in two key ways. First, the SSE sector, and cooperatives in particular, are cast as drivers of regional integration and socioeconomic policy; however, their limited involvement in major integration projects represent missed opportunities for SSE to be mainstreamed. Second, though SSE policy is portrayed as an intervention that combines social and economic policies, its implementation almost exclusively by ministers of social development means that SSE is institutionally limited to the realm of poverty eradication rather than restructuring of the dominant economic model. SSE is also fiscally dependent on dominant industries, which ultimately does not reverse or challenge the ongoing process of economic centralization in key sectors.

Marcelo Saguier is Senior Researcher in the Department of International Relations, Latin American School of Social Science, FLACSO–Argentina. His research interests include South American regionalism, natural resources and socioenvironmental conflicts, transnational social movements, human rights and transnational corporations, emerging powers and regional/global order.

Zoe Brent is Research Fellow at Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy in Oakland, California. Her recent research covers worker-owned cooperatives and new forms of labour struggle in Argentina; worker and immigrant rights throughout the global food supply chain; and land conflict and indigenous land rights in the southern Andes.