Solidarity Economy in Croatia: Anthropological Perspective (SOLIDARan)

Solidary ecological farmersʼ market  in Pula. Photo by courtesy of Mr. Nenad Kuftić

Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, the world and Croatia have seen a proliferation of «bottom-up» initiatives, including social innovations based on the principles of solidarity economy. The solidarity economy comprises an array of very diverse initiatives and movements focused on creating and practicing alternative ways of living, producing and consuming and thus also on transforming the dominant economic system. This includes practices such as communal living, communal kitchens, workers’ cooperatives, urban gardening, community-assisted agriculture, eco villages, ethical financing, alternative currencies, LETS, fair-trade initiatives and others. Research on the solidarity economy is important not only in the Croatian context, but on a global level as well, particularly because this subject brings together a complex field of scholarly research and the social and economic influence of the researched phenomenon itself. By including an anthropological perspective and a diachronic view of the conceptualization of solidarity in the presocialist, socialist and postsocialist period, the proposed research would contribute to understanding solidarity economy practices in the specific Croatian context. The central research questions regard the different and often mutually exclusive conceptualizations of solidarity in the contemporary moment, new forms of communities of practice and new ways of imagining communities, as well as perceptions of the solidarity economy as a way of creating a utopia of reconstruction. The research will thus contribute to understanding the processual nature and the multiple intra- and intergroup dynamics among the actors of the solidarity economy, as well as to the theoretical consideration of the important anthropological concepts of solidarity, reciprocity and communities. The applied objective of the project consists in developing a model (guidelines) for the implementation of elements of the solidarity economy into public policy.