Project Overview

Social Economy in the North

Although the term social economy is not widely used in Northern Canada, the ideas and relationships that are the foundation of what others are now referring to as social economy are prevalent throughout the North.  Much work has been devoted to a definition of the social economy. Choinard and Fairbain (2002) have noted that outside Quebec, the social economy is often referred to as community economic development. The central notion of both these terms is that they include economic activities that are not state-driven and not profit-driven. They include a large "third sector" that is often ignored (Quarter, 1992). In the North, it can be argued that the traditional economy of indigenous societies can be considered part of the social economy in that much of its pre-capitalist values still play an important role in the region and act in contradiction to the profit-seeking values of contemporary "affluent" society (Sahlins, 1972).

Communities in Canada's North are currently facing substantial challenges. The social economy offers tools to help these communities face these challenges. This network of university and college-based researchers and representatives of community based organizations, will operate as partners, to conduct research relevant to the social economy in Canada's North. This is important and relevant to the regional understanding and relationship to Canada's Social Economy.  Northern governments, both indigenous and public, need research in this area in order to undertake realistic program development and especially to develop realistic economic development policies.

The creation of a social economy research node in the North will provide better understanding of how the social economy functions in a variety of social conditions. In particular, the nature and relationship of the social economy to the collectivist traditions of Northern indigenous society would add much to a proper understanding of the phenomena.

Chouinard, O., Fairbain, B. (2002). L'économie sociale au Canada hors Québec: la tradition coopérative et le développement économique communautaire. Économie etsolidarités, Revue du CIRIEC-Canada , 33:1, 51-56.

House, J. D. (1981). Big oil and small communities in coastal labrador: The local dynamics of dependency. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 18:4, 433-452.

Quarter, J. (1992). Canada's Social Economy . Toronto : Lorimer.

Sahlins, M. (1972). Stone Age Economics . Chicago : Aldine and Atherton.

Southcott, C. (2003).  Spacially-based Social Differentiation in Canada's Future: Trends in Urban/Non-urban Differences in the Next Decade. In D. Juteau, (Ed.), Social Differentiation Patterns and Processes , Toronto : University of Toronto Press.

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