Pre-distribution, Basic Income, and the Institutions of Economic Democracy
University of Barcelona, Spain
The debate on pre-distribution, which is emerging in many domains of social sciences, does not seem to be a temporary fashion. But is it really an unproblematic novelty? At a first glance, one must agree with pre-distributive theorists that the idea of pre-distribution – establishing regulatory frameworks enabling widespread social participation within economic life – has the capacity to create an exciting new agenda for democratic thinking. However, some developments of the pre-distributive agenda hide conceptual problems and ambiguities. Firstly, what's new within mainstream pre-distributive approaches – the refusal of tax and transfers – might erode relevant sets of resources for individuals and groups to pursue freer lives. Secondly, such refusal of tax and transfers might also oppose exactly what is needed to establish the kind of regulatory frameworks theorists of pre-distribution uphold. Thirdly, what seems politically promising within pre-distribution is everything but new: in effect, transformative classical political economy, from the 18th to the 21st Centuries, has always underlined the importance of ex-ante conferring upon individuals and groups resources of many sorts for them to enjoy effective freedom, that is, for them to have real capacities to co-determine how to work and live. This paper will try to make sense of the contemporary pre-distributive political agenda by exploring basic income as a conceivably pre-distributive tool helping build a (post-capitalist) free-choosers democratic economy. In the light of this, it will also assess the prospects of basic income as a suitable institutional device for a democratic making of the European economic space.
The role of grassroots food banks in the building of solidarity among vulnerable people
1Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain; 2City University of New York
In the context of the current economic crisis and poverty in Spain, food banks have lately bourgeoned as an emergency solution for vulnerable groups that are at risk of social exclusion. Traditional food banks have been criticised for allegedly perpetuating dependency, and therefore creating unequal relationships between donors and recipients. However, in Madrid, in the years after the 15M movement, some local food banks emerged as part of a grassroots movement that resignified an old form of assistance, by promoting forms of solidarity relationships. This has been achieved through a logic of public denunciation of poverty as a structural problem therefore freeing vulnerable people from being blamed on their situation, as well as a series of actions that create inter-recognition among food bank participants. Our paper presents the main findings drawn from an ethnographic study conducted in two food banks in the city of Madrid between May and December 2016. The study’s main results highlight the role of grassroots food banks as key actors in building novel forms of social mobilization and political action in Spain that defy traditional charity models of social assistance. By organizing themselves on the basis of a horizontal model of decision-making, grassroots food banks’ activists aim to empower at-risk groups by providing public legitimacy to their claims while meeting their most immediate food needs. The paper also explores some tensions in the movement, namely its relation with public institutions and the relationships between activists and at-risk groups.
Theory and Practice of Work in the Social and Solidarity Economy. Constructing a theoretical framework for the analysis of concrete experiences.
University of the Basque Country, Spain
In a context of global and multidimensional crisis such as this, we can see how our western societies founded on the employment-work are immersed in a profound process of change as well as their meanings and forms of organization (Beck, Giddens & Lash, 2006). Although many authors from different academic areas have pointed the evidence of a profound crisis of employment-based societies (Prieto, 2000; Durán, 2006), we consider that is of vital importance to put back on the table the category of Work -distinguished from the employment - for further analysis from the perspective of different social initiatives that are now proliferating. The Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) movement, among others, takes up the category of Work from a wider and multi-dimensional approach based on contributions from the Critical Theory and social movements (especially ecologist and feminist ones). Its particular form of searching social emancipation from everyday life, locally and through Work makes it an interesting field where its way of understanding, organizing and practicing Work is mixed with, clashed against and distinguished from the hegemonic one. The main objective of this research consists in analysing and contrasting the forms of understanding, organizing and practicing Work in these experiences; and contrasting theory with the practice. Six paradigmatic cases in the Basque context which belong to different economic sectors and networks will be analysed and compared: Fagor Arrasate (Mondragon Corporation – industry), Urtxintxa Eskola (Ner Group – education), Fiare Ethical Banking (REAS – finances), Hiritik At (OlatuKoop – service sector) and Laborantza Ganbara (Vía Campesina – agriculture). The theoretical framework and analytical tools used for the analysis of these concrete experiences will be presented in this paper.
Listening against Policescape: Towards the Sonic Commons
Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Serbia
In this paper I aim to locate everyday practices of “listening against” as a way of creating new spaces of commons in the urban. I start with discussing strategies of sonic policing (understood in Rancièrian terms), which I emphasize as a potent vehicle in replicating the patterns of cultural hegemonies. By “sonic policescape” I do not only refer to the wide system of urban sounds (and noises), but also to specific established practices and economies of everyday listening. I particularly discuss how listening is shaped by the omnipresent divide on “public” and “private” spheres which is performed in the capitalist city, by consumeristic 'horror silentii' and its particular assault on threshold spaces, and by contemporary technologies of space/time reduction and commodification of space. Thereafter, I locate various strategies of resistance performed individually and collectively which I describe as “listening against”. I discuss the potential of absolute listening (listening to sonic intensities) as de-signifying practice, engaged listening as listening to urban contradictions, and, finally, intervention as listening, whereas listener actively endeavours to reshape the urban sonic fabric. My examples range from everyday commuter cycling to activities of self-organized choirs and anarcho-feminist collectives. As I will emphasize, these practices show that “listening against” is always based in understanding of urban sounds as political acts and in readiness to negotiate the urban space, and therefore it can be considered as everyday revolutionary practice in producing the commons and alternative economies of the everyday. My research has been performed in period 2014-2016 in Belgrade and Vienna and has been theoretically informed by works of Henri Lefebvre, Jacques Rancière and current neo-Marxist debates on the issue of commons.