Solidarity Economy and Informal Workers Mobilizations : A Global Countermovement ?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Carole YEROCHEWSKI, GIREPS - Université de Montréal, Canada
The redeployment, in the world, of self-managed groups and cooperatives often along with the mobilization of informal workers must draw our attention to the social movements that seize these vehicle, by examining why and how they take up a way of organizing themselves that is all but new. We argues that it highlights the emergence of a countermovement to commodification revived with neoliberalism.

This paper is based on a case study carried out in Brazil on the mobilization of workers in the solidarity economy and is supplemented by comparative data provided by observations in Québec and documents. The notion of countermovements is taken to depart from the Marxist claim that “Production provides the foundation of opposition to capitalism” (Burawoy, 2013:17). The communication argues that this analysis is a reductionism (in the meaning of Hall, 1986). It does not allow to understand the scope and significance of an emerging countermovement, which does not follow the path of labour movements organized by trade unionism. In fact, informal workers are situated at the articulation of multiple social relationships of exploitation, oppression, and domination of class, gender and race that should not be hierarchized between themselves, and their struggles are simultaneously challenging them. Therefore, their significance : the case study highlights that, insofar as they can engage in collective action at multiple scales and on an equal footing, they seek to re-establish continuities between activities (so-called reproductive and productive work) and private and public spheres, which are arbitrarily divided by the logic of commodification and domination to justify exploitation and oppression. Unlike the second half of the 19ème century, “autogestion” is not a vehicle to recover an economic independence but to assert the predominance of social needs and aspirations on production choices. And this constitutes a radical opposition to commodification of labour and nature.