Socialism and the social economy


Eisenschitz, A. and Gough, J. 2011. Socialism and the social economy. Human Geography. 4 (2).
TitleSocialism and the social economy
AuthorsEisenschitz, A. and Gough, J.

Many socialists support initiatives to develop the social economy. Yet the social economy is deeply ambiguous in its politics: it promises radical economic democracy, yet it is often sponsored by the Right and Centre as a means of class stabilization, workers’ self-exploitation, and social reproduction on the cheap. We locate this political ambiguity in the contradictions of capitalist accumulation, particularly the contradictions of socialisation with value relations, and show how the social economy has responded to these. This analysis of the mainstream actually-existing social economy throws doubt on its potential for socialists and on some optimistic perspectives among left commentators. We then discuss some elements of an approach to the social economy which could cut against its role in class stabilisation and begin to realise its radical promise, especially by making strong links to popular collective organisations and struggles in the mainstream economy and society. This approach provides an alternative to some recent left perspectives on the social economy which we regard as too modest and pessimistic.

Keywordssocial economy, community economic development, socialisation, class relations, socialist strategy, workers’ empowerment
PublisherInstitute for Human Geography
JournalHuman Geography
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Publication process dates
Deposited11 Jun 2013
Output statusPublished
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