Research Collective

Urgent economic, political and planetary crises of our era call for bold, experimental, critically-informed responses that offer new ways of producing, exchanging, sharing, and investing. Since the rise a social economy sector in the 1960s, Quebec has been heralded as a key site for such economic and political innovation. Yet the dynamics of neoliberal adjustment and austerity, coupled with cultural trends toward institutionalisation, have diminished the potential for fundamental social change of many "first wave" social economy initiatives. In recent years, activists emerging from struggles against globalisation,austerity and/or resource extraction have augmented their oppositional politics with new forms of
autonomous, self-organised economic activity. This energetic and growing « second wave » of transformative economic innovation, which currently sits on the margins of Quebec's social economy sector, has yet to be documented or analyzed.
Building on our previous work on anti-authoritarian organising, this study aims to document this new wave of autonomous practices of just and sustainable livelihood. We have three knowledge-producing objectives:
1) map the breadth and scope of these initiatives, in order to make visible what is generally hidden from view;
2) analyze the diversity of economic, political and ecological practices enacted
within/amongst these types of initiatives in order to build capacity and contribute to contemporary debates across discipline and language divides on strategies toward just transition;
3) experiment Antiauthoritarian participatory action research (APAR), in order to facilitate reflexive process amongst research participants and to contribute to debates on methodology.
Using J.K. Gibson-Graham's theoretical framework - politics of post-capitalist possibility - we will mobilise three concepts: the diverse economy, community economies and politics of ubiquity. Following feminist research traditions, we will contribute to scholarly debates and knowledge, but also to social change. Building on our previous work with APAR, researchers and students will be rooted in the milieu under study and the value-practices for ethics and accountability will be coherent with antiauthoritarian political culture. We will meet our knowledge-producing objectives using research strategies deployed
in three phases (1) mapping of initiatives across Quebec (2) multi-site field work and multi-scale analysis of settler-run initiatives in three exemplary (geographical) sites and of three Indigenous-run initiatives in Atikamekw communities (3) multi-scale and multi-place analysis across sites and initiatives.
The study, namely through the setting-up of an online aggregator/forum will produce/assemble/render accessible knowledge that is currently lacking, scattered or difficult to find. Through its efforts to augment networking across disciplines, languages and continents, it will stimulate debate amongst scholars of the social economy as well as of anarchist/Marxist, feminist and Indigenous studies. By enacting APAR and supporting decolonizing methodologies, it will make a significant contribution to
debates on methodology. The decentralised project coordination structure and collectivised tasks will enhance student learning. Social benefits will also emerge, as project process and findings feed capacity-building and networking at the margins of the social economy and produces socially-useful knowledge for civil society organisations grappling with questions of just transitions, governments/band councils concerned about economic well-being and for the general public, oftentimes immobilised by a
sense of pessimism that pervades society in the wake of continued crises.