Commoning and the Politics of Solidarity: Transformational Responses to Poverty

Stephen Healy
Craig Borowiak
Marianna Pavlovskaya
Maliha Safri

This paper stages an encounter between Relational Poverty Theory (RPT) and the solidarity economy movement.  RPT understands poverty as the dynamic product of economic exploitation, political exclusion and cultural marginalization. The solidarity economy movement can be seen as a transformative political response to these dynamics aiming to replace exploitation with cooperation, exclusion with participation and marginalisation with practices of inclusion. Globally, more than sixty solidarity economy movements are coordinating efforts, developing associative relations between cooperative economic institutions, social justice movements, and one another. While these developments are encouraging, many practitioners are concerned about the movement’s future. Solidarity economy practitioners we encountered in our US-based research were concerned with the movement’s vulnerability to co-optive exploitation or (un)witting perpetuation of the very dynamics of exclusion and marginalisation it seeks to transcend. We take this as evidence of the enduring power of poverty-dynamics and testament to the incisive, critical insights of RPT.  However, what remains unanswered is how the solidarity economy might succeed in its own terms?  We deploy Gibson-Graham’s theorization of postcapitalist politics to answer this question, charting the movement’s possibilities, specifically how it works by creating and sharing spaces and monetary and non-monetary resources in pursuit of its objectives

Suggested citation

Healy, S., Borowiak, C., Pavlovskaya, M., & Safri, M. (2018). Commoning and the politics of solidarity: Transformational responses to poverty. Geoforum.