This project seeks to understand how local economies in the UK have been responding to social and environmental challenges at their core and engaging in collaborative and democratic ways of building solutions that prioritise the well-being of people and the planet.
We are looking for cases of current/ongoing experiments in local economy coming from different areas (e.g. food, housing, energy etc.) and presenting solutions that are inclusive, sustainable and democratic. They will ideally hold the following characteristics:
• Tackling both social and environmental challenges at their core;
• Experimenting with alternative and participatory ways of organising;
• Developing innovative forms of governance guided by democratic principles;
• Engaging in collaborative work with other organisations and sectors;
• Building bold solutions across a variety of interconnected themes/areas;
• Promoting qualitative ways of assessing performance and success.
The research will involve interviews targeting leaders of the main organisation(s) and different participants involved in the experiment (e.g. workers, volunteers, beneficiaries, customers, local authorities etc.). Where possible, visits and observation on the site will be carried out. Interviews will cover topics such as:
• Organisational forms, ownership and governance structure, values and goals;
• Framing of social and environmental goals and range of solutions offered;
• Engagement with local community, anchor orgs and other sectors/stakeholders;
• Role in place-based economic recovery and approach to local development;
• Distinctiveness of the model as well as scalability and dissemination potential.
Outputs generated by the research will include:
• Final report with practical recommendations on how to take the experiments forward;
• Audio-visual material in the form of a mini-documentary;
• Collective poem (art activism) on the future of local economies;
• Stakeholder workshop disseminating findings and promoting knowledge exchange;
• Academic paper and policy brief discussing research findings.
All participants will be provided with a participant information & consent form with information on how data will be collected and treated. Individual data (name of participants) will be fully anonymized.
Research lead: Dr Malu Villela Garcia
Start/end date: 2021-