Article from El Salto Diario, by Blanca Crespo Arnold, 29 September 2020
After more than a year of research, the Carasso Foundation presents its report on the SSE Ecosystem in Spain. We attended the presentation ceremony and returned some of the keys to this session, as an appetizer to the report itself.
The SSE eco-system
In order to deepen these statements that show the meaning of the SSE in the current context, José Luis Fernánde, Kois, a member of Garúa and the Tangente Group, training and consultancy, gives us an overview of the state of the question of the SSE in the Spanish state through 9 headlines that contain the conclusions of this participatory self-diagnosis:
Although it has a counter-cyclical character in crises, the rise of this ecosystem is more marked by the cycles of collective action and the effervescence of social movements (15m, process, 8m and feminist movement, wave of climate emergency). A logical connection, since the SSE calls itself and expresses itself as a social movement, a movement in favour of the democratisation of the economy.
Although important changes have taken place in recent years at the quantitative level (more people involved in these practices and initiatives), the most noteworthy changes are the qualitative ones:
1. Especially having managed to enter strategic sectors of the economy such as energy, finance, food, insurance, care….
2. The ecosystem has undergone a process of coordination and articulation whose main expression could be social markets. Stable dynamics of territorialised intercooperation, which also offer spaces for buying and selling preferential goods and services between entities.
3. Innovations which have managed to make leaps in scale, especially those initiatives which have managed to mobilize communities and reactivate practices of mutuality, as in the case of energy cooperatives or the processes of cooperative supermarkets, for example.
The SSE has come into contact with and been enriched by other transforming economies, which has allowed these dynamics to become more complex and deepened, especially thanks to three fruitful meetings with
1. Feminist economics, which, among other elements, question care policies within and outside companies, incorporating the debate on social reproduction, affects…
2. Ecological economy, which introduces the need to structure and place environmental issues at the centre and therefore condition economic activity.
3. Collaborative economies and those related to new technologies, where very conventional dynamics coexist with versions with more or less similar to the common one, but which generate an environment that forces the sector’s activities to be rearranged. This is represented by the open debates in the ecosystem on “platform cooperativism”, reflecting on the risks and potentialities of the new technologies for the SSE.
There has been a development of specific public policies aimed at promoting the SSE, mainly by municipalist initiatives that have committed themselves to accompanying and strengthening the sector, as well as in some cases by the autonomous regions, where the promotion of Aracoop by the Catalan Government is worthy of note. In spite of this greater support and accompaniment, the sector continues to demand a real commitment to public purchasing as a measure with the greatest capacity to strengthen it, acting as a driving force to condition the market and push for a more far-reaching economic transformation.
As obstacles, the sector itself perceives a lack of public knowledge and credibility about these alternatives, as well as an important business weakness of many of its initiatives, and an excessive ideological weight. Kois questions this last question and suggests that perhaps what is needed is a communicative re-situation of the ideological, the narrative, and to offer a more seductive narrative instead of influencing the ideological dimension so directly.
As elements for strengthening the SSE, the movement itself points to the need to strengthen the dynamics of intercooperation, as well as to build bridges with sectors of the conventional economy that are more susceptible to being linked to the values of the SSE, such as SMEs or some family businesses.
The whole report (in Spanish)