This is a chapter on Community Economies for the Routledge Handbook of Global Development. The chapter discusses how a community economies approach to development focuses on seeking out and strengthening already existing post-capitalist worlds. This involves community economies scholars using action research methods to work with community-based partners to help make post-capitalist activities more visible, and then to devise ways and means to build on and strengthen these activities.
The demonstrates the approach by discussing three community economies projects in the Asia-Pacific region (in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Fiji and the Solomon Islands). These projects are characterised by attentiveness to local conditions and to local values and aspirations. Thus, a community economies approach to doing development differently starts by acknowledging the local context and valuing the diverse economic activities and possibilities that are already present.
|Bottling Water Differently, and Sustaining the Water Commons? Social Innovation Through Water Service Franchising in Cambodia
Until recently, bottled drinking water was a cause of concern for development in the Global South; now, however, it is embraced as a way to reach the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target 6.1 for "[u]niversal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all". Reaching SDG 6.1 through bottled drinking water is controversial as there are broad questions about how any form of packaged – and therefore commodified – water can be ethical or consistent with "the human right to water" that was ratified in 2010 by the United Nations member states. By examining a social innovation enacted by a Cambodian NGO, this research questions polarising narratives of marketised and packaged water. Teuk Saat 1001 operates a social enterprise service franchise delivering treated family-scale drinking water in refillable 20-litre polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles directly to customers’ houses. In contrast to literature focusing on the strategic development of such initiatives, this research combines a bottom-up view of community interaction with analysis of hybrid institutional arrangements and ethical debates about the role of states in water regulation. From a postcapitalist perspective, it considers the entrepreneurial subjectivities fostered by bottled water as a 'service' and asks if this mode of packaged water can – contrary to the general arguments – actually help to sustain the water commons. The paper also considers temporality and water ethics; it concludes that models like this require close monitoring, considering the general history of commercial non-profits.
|Religious influences on social enterprise in Asia: Observations in Cambodia, Malaysia and South Korea
A cursory examination of literature shows that religion and business are historically intertwined, with particular effects on society. Since the business/religion relationship is strongly driven by ethos, this relationship appears as an interesting and relevant issue in the case of social enterprises (hereafter SEs), which are value-driven initiatives. This chapter takes a look at the influence of religion on SEs in East Asia—the most religiously diverse region of the world. We start by analysing the influence of religion on international development discourse in recent decades, considering that major international development institutions have increasingly embraced SE as part of “sustainable development”. We then narrow the by considering institutional perspectives, finding value in a text by Estelle James (1993) as the basis for a theoretical framework. We proceed with a presentation of the research that was carried out, including a summary of the methodology used, before describing three case studies that illustrate the influence of different religions on SEs: Christian Protestant influence, in South Korea; Islamic influence, in Malaysia; and Buddhist influence, in Cambodia.
|Community economies in Monsoon Asia: Keywords and key reflections
The paper has been collaboratively written with co‐researchers across Southeast Asia and represents an experimental mode of scholarship that aims to advance a post‐development agenda.This paper introduces the project of documenting keywords of place‐based community economies in Monsoon Asia. It extends Raymond William’s cultural analysis of keywords into a non‐western context and situates this discursive approach within a material semiotic framing. For Open Access, click here.
|Social Enterprise and Community Development: Theory into Practice in Two Cambodian Villages
Social enterprise (or business driven by social objectives) is a prominent focus of development. In higher income countries it is a strategy for regional development or regeneration by creating optimal levels of social value from under-utilised resources. In developing countries, social enterprise offers hope for sustainable development by reducing dependency on aid and by developing markets and improving economic growth. Social enterprise is widely linked to ‘business at the bottom of the pyramid’, there is particular attention to heroic 'social entrepreneurs'. But critical literature shows a tension between the top-down ‘development’ driven view of social enterprise and a bottom-upwards grassroots community development approach driven by wellbeing. This thesis explores the second agenda in the context of Cambodia, a post-colonial and post-conflict, aid dependent developing country that has undergone rapid economic transition since the late 1990s. The thesis asks – How are social enterprises likely to be understood at the grassroots community level in Cambodia? and What discourses of social enterprise are likely to yield sustainable effects at this level of society? This research is multi-disciplinary, drawing from economic geography and substantive economic anthropology as well as the social enterprise management and social entrepreneurship literature. It engages with and critiques some of the most widely held theoretical approaches concerning social value and economic value, social capital, collectivity and solidarity, the attributes and naturalised ethics of social entrepreneurs. Theoretically, I make the case for social value in pragmatic terms as an embodied process that is situated in context. This allows for an historicised analysis of reciprocity and mutual self-help oriented to contextualised outcomes vis-a-vis wellbeing. The actions of some socially entrepreneurial actors give hope for social economies at the grassroots but they also call ethics into the question. It has to be appreciated that economic solidarity is processed through a host of competing interests and obligations.
This thesis was undertaken using an action research project in two adjacent peri-urban villages in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. The project was undertaken in collaboration with ten villagers with different skills and a partially shared interest in community development. It began with activities to stimulate new economic subjectivities and to amplify latent subjectivities and moved onto opportunities for social enterprise development that could foster sustainable and democratic development pathways. Significant barriers to grassroots led, cooperatively managed social enterprises were encountered. But in the research process ‘little narratives’ were uncovered, embodied within everyday economic activities that underwrite villagers’ survival while also having stabilising effects within the villages. The findings court controversy, as far as past traumatic events are found to have an enduring impact on economic subjectivities and grassroots reciprocity which intermeshes with the more recent impact of development strategies including microfinance and ‘free trade zones.’ The research has implications for how projects to promote social enterprise development within village communities might be approached by Third Sector organisations in Cambodia.