Black Feminists in the Third Sector: Here Is Why We Choose to use the term Solidarity Economy

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Caroline Shenaz Hossein and Megan Pearson

Year: 2023

Many countries in the Global North use the term “social economy”—also known as the third sector—to describe economies run by citizens rather than by state or business actors. Over the years, many Black feminist scholars share the view that the concept of the “social economy” is limited to a European understanding. It fails to acknowledge those actors in the third sector who are excluded from interacting with the government or private sector. There is an assumption that the social economy is “socially inclined” and that it is a sector able to “interact” with the state and capitalist firms. What happens when certain groups of people cannot interact with the state or private sectors due to systemic exclusion? The authors argue that to transform literature on the social economy, we must use the term solidarity economy. Rejecting the sanitized language of the social economy, the authors use critical discourse and case study analyses to show the worldwide use of the term solidarity. This work draws on theories of community economy intentional community to argue that the solidarity economy is a site of contestation and a way to push for social change.