Solidarity Economy

See here for many many definitions.

A Solidarity Economy is defined by:

  1. Solidarity, cooperation, and democracy as norms that all people and organizations have to follow if they are to be a part of the Solidarity Economy.
  2. The supremacy of labor over capital. Labor is the core of economic life and human development. It is to be rescued from the slavery of capital and returned to its proper dignity.
  3. Workers’ association as the fundamental basis of the organization of enterprises, production, and the economy in general. This is to be substituted for the waged work of capitalism that is the principal cause of social disparities, the unjust distribution of wealth, poverty, and social exclusion.
  4. Social ownership of the means of production by the workers who, as direct producers, are owners and managers of the enterprise as a community of workers and beneficiaries of the work. This eliminates the exploitation of people by other people, of people by the state, and the cause of the class struggle itself.
  5. Self-management as the best form of participation of workers in the management of enterprises, of the economy, and of society and the state. This eliminates marginalization and constructs and consolidates real democracy.
  6. The supremacy of service, social welfare, and equity over individual accumulation, profit, and ‘added-value’
  7. The integration of the solidarity economy and the conformation of the macro-economy with the solidarity economy.

The Solidarity Economy is an “alternate development framework” that is grounded in practice and the following principles:

  1. Solidarity,  mutualism, and cooperation
  2. Equity in all dimensions: race/ethnicity/nationality, class, gender, LGBTQ
  3. Recognition of the primacy of social welfare over profits and the unfettered rule of the market
  4. Sustainability
  5. Social and economic democracy
  6. Pluralism and organic approach, allowing for different forms in different contexts, and open to continual change driven from the bottom up.

Solidarity Economy examples: cooperatives (worker, producer, consumer, housing, financial), local exchange systems, complementary currencies, social enterprises and “high road” locally owned businesses, social investment funds, worker-controlled pension funds, fair trade, solidarity finance, reclaim the commons movement, land trusts, co-housing, eco-villages, community supported agriculture, green technology and ecological production, participatory budgeting, collective kitchens in Latin America, tontines (collective health programs in Africa), community-based services in France, social cooperatives in Italy, open source movement (Linux, Wikipedia), unpaid care labor.

The solidarity economy is a new way of naming and conceptualizing the many types of transformative economic values, practices, and institutions that exist in the US and all over the world. These include, but are not limited to, egalitarian and participatory economic behavior by individuals, workers and producers.

The solidarity economy is also the process of uniting these various forms of transformative economies in a network of solidarity: solidarity with a shared vision, solidarity with shared values, and solidarity with the oppressed. Thus, the work of building the solidarity economy is both to grow transformative economic values, practices, and institutions, and also to connect people and organizations that are already doing solidarity-based work in their own communities.

In the United States, many solidarity economy practices, institutions, and networks already exist, but there is no conceptual framework linking these enterprises, or overarching network of solidarity economy organizations.

Solidarity Economy is an alternative model to neoliberal capitalism. It puts cooperation over individual gain, promotes economic democracy and sustainability, supports local economies. The term “solidarity economy” is about 10 years old, and there are organizations worldwide. Solidarity economy involves three related but distinct types of solidarity:

  1.  Values-based solidarity: with people, movement groups, NGOs, worker coops, other economically just businesses — Fair Trade, ethical consumption, socially responsible investing.
  2. Anti-oppression solidarity: with oppressed countries, groups of people (especially the poor, women, indigenous peoples, people of color, LGBTQ, workers)
  3. Vision-based solidarity: among people, economic orgs, social movements based on shared visions for local and global economic development that are economically, socially, and environmentally restorative; shared advocacy of transformative institutions and policies, such as participatory budgeting and labor-based investment funds.

Two levels of solidarity:

  1. Micro-solidarity: egalitarian and participatory economic behavior by individuals, workers, and producers — ethical consumers, worker-coops, fair-trade businesses, progressive unions.
  2. Macro-solidarity: networks aiming and supporting and growing the solidarity economy — Fair Trade Federation, North American Network for the Solidarity Economy. A key aspect is organized activity by these networks aimed at transforming the state and global institutions to make them supportive to the growth of the solidarity economy.

Solidarity internationally:

Canada — coops, non-profit enterprises in many sectors, often supported by government programs.

Brazil — unions, landless worker organizing, the creation of coops among those living in informal settlements.

Europe — anti-materialism, ethical consumption

NANSE (North American Network for the Solidarity Economy) — organizing against the neo-liberal vision on all levels, in all sectors.


Allard, Jenna and Julie Matthaei. “Solidarity Economy: An Overview and Some Definitions.” Grassroots Economic Organizing. 

Arruda, Marcos.

Other Resources:

US Solidarity Economy Network

Transformation Central

Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy

image via

One Response to “Solidarity Economy”
  1. Cheyenna says:

    The above image came from the collective SolidarityNYC,, in NYC. It is based on the work of Ethan Miller. If you are in NYC and interested in learning more about solidarity economics please visit the above website.

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