Article published in Sustainability Science. Fight and Build: Solidarity Economy as Ontological Politics

I am so excited to announce that a paper I co-wrote with Boone Shear is finally published and available after more than two years of work. Entitled Fight and Build: Solidarity Economy as Ontological Politics, this article explores the potential of solidarity economy movements to create and sustain other worlds (a pluriverse) beyond capitalism and other dictates of dominant modernity (such as white supremacy, patriarchy). It draws from our many years of involvement in solidarity economy movements in Massachusetts.

It is part of a special issue in the journal Sustainability Science on Alternatives to Sustainable Development: What can we Learn from the Pluriverse in Practice?, edited by Shivani Kaul, Bengi Akbulut, Federico Demaria, and Julien-François Gerber.

We owe everything in this paper to the people and organizations who we work with in solidarity economy movements, some of whom also gave us the gift of their time for interviews. Thank you all!

Link to the journal article:


This essay explores the potential of solidarity economy (SE) as theory, practice, and movement, to engender an ontological politics to create and sustain other worlds that can resolve the existential crises of ecological destruction and historic inequalities. We argue that such a politics is necessary to go beyond the world as it is and exceed the dictates of a dominant modernity—capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy — that positions itself as the only singular reality — or One World World (Law 2011). What is needed are alternatives to development in contrast to alternative developments. Over the past decade, the SE movement in Massachusetts has advanced a fight and build approach, which has reframed economy as a matter of concern, as something that communities can, and already do, shape themselves – and that powerfully disrupts the reality of a singular capitalist economy. At the same time, the heterogeneous elements of SE are caught up in and assembling political projects with multiple orientations: modernist, social justice, and ontological (Escobar 2020). SE movement can remain stuck in a modernist politics of growing and scaling businesses and jobs. Even though a social justice approach attends to power and is more amenable to a relational view of reality where things only exist in interconnection, it too can remain mired in One World World liberal politics of redistribution and market ‘solutions’. How SE movement might actualize an ontological politics is a matter of care, an attunement to how relational worlds are coming into being and maintained. As an ontological politics, SE is not about economy qua economy at all, but about creating and sustaining worlds, pluriversal realities where we can be in solidarity with other people, beings, and planetary life systems.

Download full manuscript here.

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Distinguished Senior Lecturer and Director of Master of Public Policy and Community Practice, Tufts University Department of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning

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