My name is Pablo Baisotti, I am a researcher in politics, history, and economics. I have worked in universities as different as Sun Yat-Sen in China and Costa Rica. However, the economic issues studied in both continents had a striking similarity: the need for a real change in economic planning. A different economy that can escape from the mercantilist and capitalist logic.
funds (euro15,000) will be used by me for:
research the development and implementation of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in several Latin American countries, starting with Costa Rica, Argentina, and Chile.
SSE can be defined as the alternative mode of production and distribution to capitalism1. The period of study will cover from the first World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001 up to the present day. The overarching goal is characterizing the level of impact of the SSE on inequality. A secondary goal is defining the relationship between the SSE and the state and their effectiveness in combating social inequalities. This includes determining the balance between SSE and the state in several cases: Costa Rica, with an attendant, decreased inequalities; Argentina, where social inequalities increase when there is a conflict between the two; and in Chile, where the relationship is variable and dynamic to determine if inequalities occur in certain economic sectors and regions, or transform over time and with changing governments.
Objectives: The two main objectives are: 1) Mapping the relationship between the SSE and economic inequality in the case studies; and 2): Identifying and Explaining the factors that mediate those relationships.
This research aims to take up some of these debates (economics, gender, ecological) to formulate new postulates that interpret and/or reinterpret the emerging developments in the SSE Research; questions include:
· What is the relationship between the SSE, the role of the state, and social inequalities?
· How are Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica developing their SSE in order to build “another economy”?
Working hypothesis: Places (spaces) where the conflict between the state and/or among social organizations is high, the SSE has more roots and develops faster.
Methodology: To achieve these objectives, I will analyze the links and interactions between the SSE and inequality using two different empirical exercises: A) an analysis of regional clusters, and B) a comparative case study. To meet the project's two objectives, I have developed a specific three-part interdisciplinary methodology that combines: 1-Research from primary and secondary sources (Libraries and Centres); 2- Archival Research; and 3- Interviews. It should be clarified that this is not a mere research project, but a training opportunity through research.
The project is timely for three major reasons: First, the SSE has grown in recent years. Second, SSE in Latin America has also substantially expanded, proliferating in those countries where economic and social inequality is more evident. Third, the study will illuminate and provide a better understanding of the SSE’s position regarding the government and its close and long-term objectives.
I am proposing an interdisciplinary research project, as SSE combines issues of economy, society, politics, history, and environment. This project is particularly timely for three major reasons.
SSE has grown in recent years. According to data from the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), there are about 750,000 cooperative societies in the world that employ about 100 million people, and that together with mutual enterprises, generates a turnover of one trillion dollars annually.
SSE in Latin America has also substantially expanded, proliferating in particular in those countries where economic and social inequality is more evident. In Chile since the late 1980s and during the following decade, inequality grew more than in most other Latin American countries even though its poverty incidence and quality of life indicators were optimistic by regional standards. It was at this time that economic orientation began to take on a more social slant. In Argentina, after the economic default of 2001, social assistance programs were launched but they also had little impact on reducing poverty and unemployment. In both countries, SSE initiatives grew exponentially in those years due to the needs of the population and the impossibility of the State to fight against those inequalities. In contrast, Costa Rica managed to reduce poverty and inequalities through effective State actions, but at the same time, the cooperative and SSE sector grew in such a way that it could be said that the SSE had a leading role in the national development process, with dual incorporation, through employment-centered growth and broad access to social services. In this way, Costa Rica represents a unique and particular case since the SSE proliferated despite inequalities having been successfully combated from the State, unlike Chile and Argentina.
Assessing SSE demands a better understanding of their position with regard to the government and its close and long-term objectives. The project will assess the variable degrees of involvement of citizens and the specific factors that mediate the construction of an “alternative economy” such as the market and public policies.
 SSE is composed of a wide range of activities and groups and comprises informal meetings, grassroots organizations, and local community groups, through to legally-recognized businesses, associations, and organizational networks. SSE offers viable solutions for re-balancing economic, social, and environmental objectives, and it contributes an important approach for the integrated implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.