Prior research has documented the importance of the state and social movements for the emergence and proliferation of alternative organizational forms. Yet, we lack a comprehensive and interactive understanding of the larger environment that sustains cooperatives and other collectivist-democratic organizations. Using the example of Brazil’s Solidarity Economy Movement, a longstanding social movement to address poverty and inequality, we describe how a multilevel ecosystem of organizations and institutions creates conditions favorable for the growth of alternative organizational forms – in this context, democratic cooperatives that the Movement calls solidarity economy enterprises (SEEs). Drawing from archival data, interviews, and a government survey of over 19,000 SEEs between 2005 and 2012, we map out the key actors at each level of the ecosystem, identifying three primary mechanisms by which these actors collectively enabled the creation and development of SEEs: (1) providing glue for action; (2) organizing for action; and (3) engaging in action. These mechanisms, in turn, allowed for greater communication and cohesion and the exchange of information and experiences among the Movement’s participants, thereby enhancing their interconnectedness and the institutionalization of their practices.
We are grateful to our reviewers, who helped us develop our thoughts and ideas; to our editors, Katherine Chen and Victor Chen, for their insightful comments and guidance throughout the process; to our interviewees, who allowed us to take a peek into their lives; and finally, to the participants in the social movement seminar at the University of Alberta, which is where the idea for this research originally germinated. We also would like to thank SENAES for providing access to their dataset. Without the help of all these key figures, this work would not have been possible.
Ometto, M.P., Zafar, A. and Hedberg, L. (2021), "It Takes More Than a Village: The Creation and Expansion of Alternative Organizational Forms in Brazil", Chen, K.K. and Chen, V.T. (Ed.) Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 72), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 229-256. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20210000072009
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