From the time of the first giant corporations in the 19th century, there has been popular resistance to corporate power: by workers through labor unions, by small producers through campaigns against monopoly power, and by citizens who banded together to form economic alternatives and cooperatives. Many organisations that exist today, such as coops, have struggled and survived over all this period.
Present day initiatives to build economic alternatives have been gaining ground since the 60‟s and 70‟s, all over North America. Some started from very idealistic roots (like the return to nature movement) while others were more ideologically driven (anti-capitalist programs). Others grew out of sheer necessity and survival needs such as small alternative farms, non-profit day care facilities or community based economic development.
Since the early 90‟s, more and more of these alternatives have coalesced together, in many different ways. National organisations such as the Community Economic Development Network in Canada or the Chantier de l‟économie sociale in Québec have become quite strong proponents of alternative economic approaches. In the U.S. the local economy and some strands of the community economic development movements have brought together various economic alternative elements. The use of the Social and Solidarity Economy as a framework to unify the wide array of people-centered concepts and practices started being used in Québec in 1995, in other parts of Canada since about the year 2000 and in the US since 2006-2007.
There is still a large uphill struggle to build a movement that encompasses all sectors which are committed to building a social and solidarity approach as an alternative to the present day neoliberal driven economy.
The organisations involved in this effort recognise that they absolutely need to do this in partnership and in collaboration with others, all over the world, who have a similar agenda.