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Individual Paper: Reconceptualising rural social entrepreneurship as a collaborative, conflictive and learning endeavour

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In European policy, structurally weak rural areas are considered as promising grounds for local self-organised production. Social economy is expected to flourish where public infrastructure and private investments retreat, providing models for post-growth work and welfare. “Tight social structures” of rural areas and individual changemakers tapping on this hidden potential have long been identified as key components of rural social economy.

However, positive expectations on rural self-organisation hide the underlying institutionalisation of neoliberal economic development model, ignoring the challenges, conflicts and risks of self-organised service production in structurally weak areas. In addition, focus on individuals and local social structures overlook the necessity and potentialities of multi-scalar collective action, such as increasing linkages of local initiatives to bigger markets and global civic movements.

The presentation argues for re-orienting the research on social entrepreneurship towards collaborative processes. It aims to strengthen the current conceptualisations with combining Communities of Practice (Wenger 2008) - and Diverse Economies (Gibson-Graham et al. 2013) -approaches. Rural social enterprises can be understood as nodes in the networks of diverse economic practices: They open spaces of negotiation, decision-making and learning about building alternative economies in their localities. Aside constructive collaboration, the conceptual framework addresses the practise of power as refusal and pressure to learn. To recognise central points of potential learning and conflict, the research draws on the core concerns identified by Gibson-Graham (2013), i.e. surviving well socially, materially and collectively and balancing them with surplus. Finally, methodological suggestions for international comparative case study with post-structural epistemology are presented.

The presentation provides a theoretical basis for research on collaborative and conflictive organisational practises of economic alternatives in conditions of involuntary structural shrinking. Presentation is part of PhD-research within international research- and training project RurAction at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig.

Gibson-Graham, J.-K., Cameron, J., Healy, S. (2013) Take back the economy: an ethical guide for transforming our communities. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Wenger, E. (2008) Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity, 16th pr. ed, Learning in doing: social, cognitive, and computational perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 11:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Piano bar)
Track: Organisational and Organising Practices



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