måndag, mars 03, 2008

Social economy

Is the 'social economy' returning as a mean for work within society that are not connected to the public sector?

"With social economy is meant organized activities that primarily have societal purposes, is built on democratic values and are organized apart from the public sector. These social and economical activities are pursued within societies, cooperatives, foundations and similar embodiments. Activities within the social economy have public good or member good, not profit interest as primary driving force"
(Source: The Swedish Governments workgroup for the social economy, September 1999) (my translation).

How relevant is this descripiton today? How many organizations of importance could be said being a part of this social economy?
Smaller organizations within a country are more likely to be organized in this way but on a global level, I think that the question concerning profit is as important as or more important than the "public good".
This because organizations with an ideological base - like Greenpeace or any other ideologically based organization - are in great need of money to be able to perform their work.

In 1997 I started a foundation (Insamlingsstiftelsen Ascendere) working with social-economical help aimed towards homeless people and people with drug problems.
This was a non profit, non governmental organization and none of us received any salary.
Our subsistence came from other employments beside this.
Some where university students.
In those days it was fairly easy to get companies and enterprises to contribute to our work through the idea of social economical contributions that where highly popular among enterprises at the time, even though this engagement was even more 'en vogue' during the 1980's .
This engagement gave the enterprises good publicity of course and in the long run they were able to profit on this, using their 'caritative' work to promote their enterprise(s) and its products.

Unfortunately this benignity was and is very much connected to the economical development within the enterprises and society as a whole. When a depression ensue, 'the good work' and donations decline.
Among not least young people the interest in politics is decreasing while the interest in nonprofit organizations - not least the last ten years - has increased.
We also have all the internet communities that offer engagement if only indirectly, Facebook is one example.

When it comes to the NGO:s most people engage themselves indirectly with donations and signing petitions but there are a non- negligible group of most young and middle age people actually taking part in the more direct work within the NGO:s.
I think however that the social economical sector in our part of the world never again will become as influential as it once was. Unfortunately I would like to add.
This has to do with the fact that money still governs our lives and that the work carried out within these organzations - if you're not a part of the leading members in the top of the pyramide - hardly makes you rich.

Maybe I'm to negative about this development and of course one have to earn a living, one can't live all life on bread and water (even if this is a fact for a great deal of the poorest people in the world but that's another issue).
Hopefully people continue to act parallell to their 'ordinary' work and as with my organization, there is a possibility to do so.
If organized in a way so that everyone contributes in the fashion they are able to, if so only by signing petitions, this could lead to more engaged people, contributing to some changes and even a small contribution is better than none at all.

(Photo diagram copied from: http://www.dgcommunity.net/dgcommunity/xMWimages/3053.gif)
(Photo flowers copied from: http://www.poster.net/anonymous/anonymous-glass-hearts-9945561.jpg)

(Photo Greenpeace and boats copied from: http://oceans.greenpeace.org/raw/image_full/fr/photo-audio/photos/inflatable-boats-from-the-gree.jpg)

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