1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Beyond the “Business Case”: A Community Economies Approach to Gender, Development and Social Economy (Draft)


This paper makes a case for reconfiguring current gender and development initiatives that rest on the business case for investing in women as “smart economics” toward non-capitalist practices and ideals associated with the social and solidarity economy. Drawing upon the community economies approach of “taking back the economy”, the authors identify the limitations and possibilities for appropriating, toward alternative ends, the ideals of care, cooperation and interdependence invoked in business-case gender policy frameworks. While cognizant of the potential for cooptation of projects of social economy in development, the authors also suggest some innovative forms of social and solidarity economy practice that can emerge within development’s own fragmented discourses and practices. Finally, they offer some suggestions for connecting gender and development to a politics of ethical transformation toward non-capitalist subjectivities that engages gender with a social and solidarity economy framework.

Suzanne Bergeron is an economist whose research examines recent transformations in gender and development with a focus on how economic theories structure policy frameworks. She has published in Globalizations, Frontiers, Signs, International Feminist Journal of Politics and elsewhere. She is Professor at the University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Stephen Healy is Assistant Professor of Geography at Worcester State University and a member of the Community Economies Collective. Psychoanalytic and Marxian theory inform his approach to community-based research. He is a co-author of Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities, with Jenny Cameron and J.K. Gibson-Graham.