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Grassroots innovations from the popular economy for inclusive economies: design, crossing points and governance


You are very welcome to this seminar about grassroots innovations from the popular economy (i.e. community currencies, street vendors unions, food waste processing or street menders innovations).

The seminar is organized by the Recycling Networks research project, in collaboration with the Business and Design Lab and the Managing Big Cities Program. Please contact mj.zapata@handels.gu.se for registration

The Sustainable Development Goal 8 focuses on more inclusive and sustainable economic growth. It urges to increase employment opportunities and decent work, particularly in the so-called informal economy, which represents two billion people - more than 61 per cent of the world's employed population and around 25 per cent in Europe. In an effort to move beyond the informal-formal divide, the notion of 'popular economy' has recently been suggested to capture the strategies and tactics people living in harsh, turbulent and poor-resource environments develop, to make the best of what they have at hand and shape their own livelihoods.

Workers around the world are experimenting with a wealth of grassroots economic innovations creating not only their own jobs and sources of income, but also providing with critical services and goods, not limited to other low-income groups. Some examples are alternative energy communities, street-vending networks, recycling cooperatives, repair workshops, food networks or community currencies.

Grassroots innovations theory builds on the idea that communities hold the key to initiate and develop their own solutions. These initiatives often respond to local problems and needs and involve the knowledge, resources, interests and values of local communities. Contingent on their design, they can also boost local economies, avoiding leakages and improving the quality of their environments. Yet the experimentation is not only economic but also political. Recent research shows how these popular initiatives develop governance structures from below in an effort to strengthen their initiatives, facilitate their growth and diffusion (e.g. through alternative social security systems or novel labor-rights forms of association), and shape public policies. While the literature in grassroots innovation theory is growing, a number of aspects remain understudied. Some of these gaps relate to the design of the grassroots innovations, its techno-cognitive and political dimensions, and the interests and power relations inscribed in them; the cross-cut exchanges between innovations, sectors, disciplines and research methods; and the challenges to diffuse these grassroots innovations and shape mainstream institutions through networks and governance.

Informed by experiences and research from Latin American and African countries, in this seminar we will examine the design, crossing points and governance challenging grassroots economic innovations. We will also interrogate these practices to reflect about what global North communities and societies can learn from them.


Popular Economy as political experimentation: creation of collective rights and unionisation among street vendors in Buenos Aires, Maria Inés Fernández Álvarez, University of Buenos Aires
Grassroots innovations for a Circular Economy "from below": Epistemic, political and techno-cognitive challenges for Buenos Aires waste picker's, Sebastián Carenzo, University of Quilmes
Recycling grassroots networks as the new environmental and labour movements: a civic governmentality from below? María José Zapata Campos, School of Business, Economics and Law

10.00-10.30 Coffee break

Localizing, socializing and developing the commons: Community currencies as a postcapitalist infrastructure. Ester Barinaga, Lund University
Fish waste processing: a zero-waste and feminist circular economy? The case of the Kambuta market and women-groups in Kisumu, Kenya Patrik Zapata, School of Public Administration, GU
Frugal Design Approaches and the Jua Kali's (street innovators) way of working, Helena Hansson, Academy of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg.

Datum: 2020-01-15

Tid: 08:30 - 12:00

Kategorier: Hållbar utveckling

Arrangör: Gothenburg Research Institute

Plats: Handelshögskolan, Vasagatan 1
Matsalen på Malmstensvåningen

Sista anmälningsdag: 2020-01-15 kl. 08:00.

Kontaktperson: Lise-Lotte Walter

Telefon: 0731506220

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