|A Community Economies perspective for ethical community development
Community Economy theory has gained much traction over the past two decades as a language politics and an ethical tool kit for researchers and practitioners in the field of community development. This chapter examines Community Economy approaches to development using two empirical examples from quite different contexts that highlight key ethical concerns. In the two empirical examples we show how communities can move towards surviving well collectively by mapping their existing diverse economic practices and relationships, and how people can shift from focusing on their individual survival to collective survival. We use the Community Economy approach to suggest that ethical questions are best negotiated through relationships and in specific contexts, rather than adopting an individualist or universal prescription of what ethics is, or should be in any given context.
|Can the commons be temporary? The role of transitional commoning in post-quake Christchurch
We use two Christchurch case studies to think about the temporality of commoning, concluding that even transitional and temporary commoning can help normalise and make visible the practice, thus enabling commoner subjectivities.
|The violence of (in)action: communities, climate and business-as-usual
Climate change is creating challenges and opportunities for community development. The challenges arise from declining biophysical conditions and the socio-political and economic barriers that delay, delegitimize or co-opt genuine community responses. Opportunities are arising from global climate change activism networks that provide new resources and discourses for activists and community organizers. These challenges and opportunities are unevenly shaped by the possibility for genuine democratic contestation in different contexts. In this article we draw on recent climate justice mobilizations in Aotearoa New Zealand. These mobilizations called for divestment from fossil fuel activities by blocking access to major banks around the country that directly support the industry. While most actions in the campaign were peaceful and effective in closing down business-as-usual for the day at specific bank branches, one in particular provoked police and implicit state-sanctioned violence against the activists, pitting bank customers against climate activists. We use this case study to illustrate the complexity of contemporary climate activism and tactics within communities, and draw on the work of Judith Butler to show how violence and stigma are used to discipline certain bodies who contest more dominant development trajectories and investment.
|Radical equality, care and labour in a community economy
The reproductive and care work predominantly undertaken by women has historically been undervalued in traditional measures of the economy. However, calls for more work, or better work for women (and men) doesn’t necessarily solve the issues surrounding waged labour such as zero hour contracts, the ‘double work day’, and other forms of increasing precarity and competition. In this article I explore how alternative forms of labour exchange in the Wellington Timebank provide one way in which subjects can partially operate outside the waged economy. I draw on Jacques Rancière’s understanding of how a radical equality underpins a democratic politics to explore the everyday negotiations around labour that occur in this alternative economy. I connect work being done by the Community Economies Collective to ideas of radical equality and a feminist ethic of care to show how embodied and everyday practices like timebanking enable subjects to challenge the inequalities of waged work and in Rancière’s terms, partially construct alternative ‘distributions of the sensible’.
|Negotiating contradiction: work, redundancy and participatory art
Within participatory geography and relational aesthetic art literature there have been calls to focus on how participation is framed, who is included and excluded, the types of relations involved and the effects of such practices. Linked to these concerns, questions have also been raised around how participants are framed and understood in participatory projects. For instance, as self‐determining and knowing subjects who become politically affirmed through participation, or as subjects caught up in complex processes of becoming. In this article I show how the participatory art project ‘Productive Bodies’ in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, enabled participants to articulate the complex contradictions surrounding waged work, redundancy and unemployment. I suggest that participatory art projects can be a useful way for subjects to explore these complex processes of becoming. Useful because in this case, the project enabled participants to both acknowledge dominant disciplining discourses around waged work, while also creating space to imagine and enact alternatives to more dominant and limiting discourses. I argue that participatory art projects like Productive Bodies can help subjects move away from cognitive understandings of social change and political demands because the process understands subjects as always‐already affected by wider societal discourses. Such an understanding recognises the complexity of subjectivities whereby subjects are both complicit in perpetuating and subjecting themselves to more dominant discourses, but also often desirous of change. Participatory art projects like Productive Bodies can enable subjects to articulate these complexities, while also catching glimpses of other selves and other societal relations through affectual‐embodied encounters.
|Negotiating interdependence and anxiety in community economies
The burgeoning literature on diverse and community economies has been relatively hopeful, exploring how people learn, enact new and reclaim other ways of meeting their needs outside of capitalist practices. For good reasons, much of this work has sought to avoid a conventional critical-leftist orientation, instead adopting what Gibson-Graham call a ‘weak theory’ approach ‘that welcomes surprise, entertains hope, makes connection, tolerates coexistence and offers care for the new’. Within this literature until recently, less attention has been given to how community economy collectives negotiate the everyday ethical dilemmas to enact interdependence. In this article, I draw on Jean Luc Nancy’s understandings of subjectivity and what he terms an ‘inoperative community’ to explore the everyday anxieties and relational tensions in the Wellington Timebank, a community economy in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I use Nancy’s framing of the inoperative community and Gibson-Graham’s engagement with his ideas as a lens to explore the ethical tensions involved in enacting community economies. I show how Nancy’s ideas help us to better understand the apparent contradictions experienced in communities, by exploring the tensions between community myths of diversity and labour equality, which are unworked and interrupted by everyday anxieties and fears. This is not to suggest that community economies like the Wellington Timebank are a failure, but rather that openly discussing such examples help us as researchers to better understand the everyday tensions collectives necessarily negotiate in enacting interdependence.
|Community Economies: Responding to questions of scale, agency, and Indigenous connections in Aotearoa New Zealand
This commentary was invited by the special editors of this issue and is partly based on the Community Economies session that the four authors organised at the Social Movements Conference III: Resistance and Social Change in Wellington, 2016. During the session, a number of questions were asked by participants. Some of these questions were new for us, while others have been asked of Community Economy scholars before. All of the questions however, point to ongoing pressing concerns around how to act ethically with human and non-human others in ways that decolonise our colonial, capitalist-oriented economy and society. In what follows we briefly outline some key theoretical underpinnings of Community Economies scholarship, and then provide some reflections on the questions asked during the 2016 conference session.