Economic alternatives to the construction of other possible worlds. A mapping of the local scene in Guadalajara

Reception: April 14, 2020

Acceptance: October 2, 2020


The context of structural crisis that has worsened on a global scale in the last three or four decades has led to the emergence of social practices and organizations dedicated to managing the satisfaction of needs outside of conventional markets, in an attempt to generate community and autonomy through the recovery of social relations, the environment and the health of the population, aspects increasingly affected by the currently dominant model of mass production and consumption. The recent proliferation of alternative markets, consumer cooperatives, community gardens, barter clubs and other proposals that have emerged in cities such as Guadalajara account for the ways in which it is built on a daily basis, based on consumption, exchange and self-provisioning decisions, the utopia of a better world. From a mapping exercise of actors of the alternative economies of the city, it was possible to identify the configuration of a network of spaces where these practices are promoted, as well as the horizons in which their meaning is anchored.

Keywords: , , ,

Alternative Economies to Build Another Possible World, Mapping the Local Scene in Guadalajara

The structural crisis context, which has been exacerbated globally in the past three or four decades, has led to the creation of social practices and organizations dedicated to the satisfaction of needs outside conventional markets, in an attempt to create a sense of community and autonomy by recovering social relations, the environment and the health of the population, all of which have been affected by the currently dominant mass production and consumption model. The recent proliferation of alternative markets, consumption cooperatives, community gardens, bartering clubs and other proposals that have emerged in cities around the world such as Guadalajara, account for the ways in which the utopia of a better world is built on a daily basis from consumption decisions, exchange and self-sufficiency. By mapping actors in the city's alternative economies, we were able to identify the configuration of a network of spaces in which these practices were promoted, as well as the horizons to which their meaning is anchored.

Keywords: alternative economies, mapping, other possible worlds, local network.

Economic alternatives for another possible world

More and more people are losing the possibility of accessing a safe living environment, decent work and housing, health and care services, adequate food, or quality urban infrastructure and services. Disenchantment in the absence of the welfare state, in the face of inequality in macroeconomic dynamics, or the unsustainability of the mass production and consumption model has led to the emergence of organizations that seek to contribute elements for the construction of a world where logics that govern promote life and benefit all fairly and equitably.

Different proposals are recovered for this purpose, among which the social and solidarity economy, the economy of the common good, the collaborative economy, the gift, and others in which principles and objectives aimed at improving the quality of life of women are shared. people, strengthen social cohesion and maintain environmental sustainability (Moreno Izquierdo, 2014; will be, 2012). They all manifest themselves in different ways and seek to transform different elements of reality, but it can be said that they share the same philosophical and axiological basis in which the economy is understood in a holistic and diverse way, embedded in the social, moral and political life of people, oriented towards their own service and the protection of the environment.

These proposals have inspired organizational models and economic practices across a diversity of fronts and at different scales, which make up a rich ecosystem of spaces and activities dedicated to production, consumption, exchange, gift and self-provision.

In rural and peri-urban areas, peasants and farmers are already organizing to recover agricultural models based on traditional techniques and knowledge, to which they also increasingly incorporate eco-technologies for the generation of clean energy, bio-construction materials, water collection, waste recovery , etc. In Jalisco, groups of farmers promote the agroecological cultivation of food in various regions such as the South and North Coasts, the Sierra de Manantlán, La Ciénega or the southern region of the state, while in cities such as Guadalajara, producer fairs are increasingly such as consumer groups, community gardens, or barter clubs. A range of proposals has been opened during the first two decades of the century xxi when barter, urban agriculture, fair trade, local consumption or community currencies became popular.

Although these forms have accompanied mankind for a good part of its history, they could now be considered alternatives as they arise in a time and space determined by consumerism and mass production, in which there is not much room for activities that do not respond to such logics. The availability of a diversity of these alternatives in a given territory would allow the incorporation of different means and mechanisms of consumption, exchange and production in daily life, which could mean a positive impact on daily life and on the well-being of people, of their homes and their families.

The otherness of these proposals lies mainly in their criticism of economic rationalism, speculation or the idea of development, as well as the fetishization of money, social inequality and the environmental degradation that these have caused. These criticisms, in dialogue with other perspectives of gender, ethnicity, territory, etc., define the discourse and practices in the initiatives that are presented here and among its participants, who are part of a movement and an identity project that is greater than part of , and it is only understood within, capitalist imaginaries (Maurer, 2005: 8). The current rise of alternative, social or transformative economies responds to the accentuated context of structural crisis that shows the need to develop a political movement of economic resistance that allows us to think about other future scenarios (Healy, 2008; Moreno Izquierdo, 2014; Reygadas et al. 2014, Eusko Ikaskunta, 2016).

In this sense, after learning about the expropriation of land, the exploitation of peasant labor and the contamination inherent in the current food system, Carolina (a 30-year-old environmental engineer) has dedicated herself to the management and promotion of community gardens, edible forests and other agri-food projects. She decided to move from protest to action because she believes in the possibilities of change, and comments: "It is better to look the other way and to explore other life alternatives." Which in your case means participation in organizations and activities that seek economic justice, environmental sustainability, autonomy and food security.

For Mariana, a 43-year-old photographer and mother, the exchange of goods and services represents an opportunity to think and relate in a different way, and although she does not have much time for militancy or activism, she usually attends barter sessions and resort to this type of exchange to get goods and services; "Finally, I believe that this is something very tangible with which one could really live, in a certain way, outside the capitalist system," he says.

In spaces such as the Forum of Transformative Economies, that of a New Economy and Social Innovation, and mainly the World Social Forum, members of different organizations and activists have promoted the articulation of the movement, discourses and positions on a global scale, in favor of of a joint agenda and a common project. Meanwhile, in the academic field, the subject is increasingly approached and discussed from different disciplines, among which geography stands out for its relevant theoretical-conceptual contributions, especially those related to the role of territory and the configuration of space in construction. of economic alternatives. Authors such as Stephen Healy, Katherine Gibson or Hans-Martin Zademach have called attention to the need to identify, map and analyze spaces dedicated to diversity, difference and economic experimentation; Only in this way is it possible to recognize and appreciate the diversity of manifestations, while at the same time exploring their emergent properties.

A community especially interested in addressing the issue has been made up of specialists in economic geography –David Harvey, Eathan Miller, among others–, who emphasize the role of space, territory and resources in the configuration of social, political and social processes. economical. Together with more and more stakeholders from anthropology, sociology or economics, they join forces to identify, analyze and georeference cases of forms and organizations considered manifestations of alternative economies.

This text shows what is considered to be an emerging network of actors, practices and alternative relationships for production, trade, exchange and consumption in the city of Guadalajara and other nearby municipalities. It seeks to offer a general view of the local manifestation of a global phenomenon, and to show what the participants understand as that other possible world that gives meaning to their practices; thus, they can be understood within certain horizons that indicate where these efforts could be directed and where they are now.

The present work is part of a doctoral research in which the incorporation of alternative economic practices to living is analyzed.
daily life of seven middle-class households in Guadalajara, as well as its contribution to the satisfaction of different needs. This research was proposed as a phenomenological study of economic practices considered alternatives that, through an ethnographic approach, sought to know the various manifestations of the phenomenon, the actors involved, the spaces, the dynamics and the relationships between them.

In addition to visits and participation in the spaces and their face-to-face activities, there was continuous monitoring of the online sites managed by the different initiatives, their publications and agendas on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp pages, groups and profiles. It is worth noting the volume of activity that takes place in these virtual spaces where activists, organizers, consumers and interested parties in general converge, who make publications, share information and write comments, which allows gathering relevant information on significant elements in the discourse and practices Economic alternatives emerging in Guadalajara. At the same time, the cases of six participants from different initiatives were documented, with the aim of knowing the degree of incorporation of economic practices considered alternatives and analyzing the type of satisfactions obtained with them.

During the field research - carried out between spring 2017 and summer 2018 - it was possible to identify and map the different initiatives, actors and relationships in which they are immersed. This has been inspired by the ethnography of political activism (pae) proposed by Gary Kingsman (2006), which also addresses the identification of capacities, powers and conflicts, as well as alliances, weak points and mediators. In addition to representing a local knowledge system and allowing alternative processes and actions to be located geographically, such a map allows analyzing the possible articulations between initiatives and the configuration of a network within a systemic and dynamic vision. Regarding the subjective, the location, identification and delimitation involved in exercises of this nature are operations that decisively influence the formation of personal and political subjectivities (Harvey, 2007).

Here we present what is considered to make up an emerging network of economic alternatives in the city of Guadalajara, especially regarding the sites that constitute the participation scenarios where the practices make sense. This in itself constitutes an important finding on a local scale, where, due to the importance of activities, organizations and conventional economic trends, it seems that the phenomenon is non-existent. And it is that, being one of the main cities of the country in terms of population –5.26 million inhabitants (inegi, 2020) -, of industrial production - manufacturing industry, information technology, automotive, processed foods -, and economic exchanges, alternative economic practices go unnoticed.

Guadalajara began to grow rapidly since its foundation in 1541, both in economic activities and population. At the beginning of the century xx the growth of the commercial sector allowed the accumulation of local capital and stimulated small-scale industry. Those of footwear and clothing were those with the greatest participation in the local economy, to the extent of making Guadalajara one of the main distributors of the national market during the Second World War. The greatest boom occurred with the industrialization of the national economy in the 1940s and the consequent migration of large numbers of people seeking employment in the different foreign industries that established themselves in the city (Arias, 1980; Venegas Herrera et al., 2016; Gutiérrez González, 2017).

The then current model of import substitution affected locally, as an attempt was made to adapt the territory to the requirements of emerging industrial activities, and at the end of the 1950s the Guadalajara Industrial Zone was created where large companies were established. The industrialization of the city made it possible to improve the purchasing power of the population, especially the middle class, the main consumer of goods and services. Since then, it has been consolidated as one of the most important cities in the country in terms of population, economically and industrially.However, such capacity diminished with the crisis of the 1990s, the entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement and the entry of new companies. with new systems of production and competition. Then, due to the large flow of merchandise from different areas of the country, trade took off, which strengthened the growth of the city and the markets (Arias, 1980; Venegas Herrera et al., 2016; Gutiérrez González, 2017).

Shortly after, services arrived, which currently constitute one of the most important sectors due to the amount of jobs they generate and because of their influence on the urban organization of the city. During the last decades, the transition from an economy highly intervened by the State to another of a neoliberal nature influenced the loss of local industries, the growth of urban poverty and the intensive occupation of the territory for speculative purposes (Arias, 1980; Venegas Herrera et al., 2016; Gutiérrez González, 2017). Like many Latin American cities, Guadalajara has reproduced an irregular economic growth, uneven in terms of the distribution of public facilities, the polarization of income and with low capacities to generate socially protected, stable and remunerative employment (Román and Siqueiros in Rodríguez Gómez et al., 2009).

In the field, large foreign and national companies, mainly producers of agave, avocado, berries, tomatoes and other vegetables have entered the landscape and communities through the installation of large agro-industrial greenhouses and monocultures, especially in the last ten years. These activities have generated significant situations of clearing and deforestation, soil degradation, water shortages and contamination, and disease in populations due to exposure to agrochemicals. They have also unleashed illegal practices such as the drilling of clandestine water wells, the hoarding of this resource or the use of anti-hail cannons. In many cases this has meant an increase in poverty, exploitation, displacement and pollution (Chaparro and Peredo, 2019).

Guadalajara network of economic alternatives

Although the discussion around economic alternatives continues and the definitions and concepts are under construction, some ideas about what is alternative and what are alternative economic practices are useful, which have contributed to refining the identification and classification of the initiatives presented here. The notions developed by Ricardo Méndez Gutiérrez del Valle (2018) and José Luis Sánchez Hernández (2017) are rescued in their respective research advances on “Alternative economic spaces and practices for building resilience in Spanish cities”, a project in which they participate together with other researchers from different universities in that country.

In his work, the former defines alternative economic practices as "a set of practices related either to production, exchange, consumption or financing, which in some way question the hegemonic rationality and pose a critical vision of current reality" (Méndez Gutiérrez del Valle, 2018: 8). While the second, from a more systemic perspective, understands them as

economic coordination models whose participants try to abide by principles such as autonomy, reciprocity and democracy, and promote non-competitive values; They operate in a local environment with physical spaces for collective encounter and claim to seek the overcoming, transformation or elimination of the variety of hegemonic capitalism in their geographical framework of action (Sánchez Hernández, 2017: 43).

Among the most common modalities are community and domestic gardens, agro-ecological producer fairs, local markets and kilometer zero, consumer and housing cooperatives, time banks, barter networks or alternative currencies. All are considered alternative economic practices as long as they express the intention to change what is rejected from conventional markets (Luengo González, 2014: 7) and that are usually aspects of the political, economic, social, environmental or health spheres, such as the devaluation of female work, the increase in the cost of goods and services, the wide gaps of inequality between social classes, the overexploitation of ecosystems or the consumption of transgenic and contaminated foods, to name just a few.

During the fieldwork, around 40 initiatives of this type were found in the city of Guadalajara, among them social, local and organic markets, conscious consumption cooperatives, social currencies, barter networks and community gardens.1 These were considered from the testimonial references of the participants and the continuity of their activities, which were corroborated in continuous observation visits and participation. In Map 1: Network of alternative economies in Guadalajara, the current proposals are georeferenced with the intention of offering a more refined and visual perspective of the phenomenon.2

Map 1: Network of alternative economies in Guadalajara

The categorization that is done responds to the type of activities that are promoted, but also to their discursive references and their organizational proposals, recovered through documents, interviews and conversations, but also in publications on Facebook and messages in WhatsApp groups. Thus, it is known that most of the initiatives identified have been developed in middle-class socioeconomic environments, among a professionalized sector, informed and in the process of overcoming the disillusionment represented by the loss of the certainties offered for decades by a disappeared welfare state; in addition to the environmental disappointment that the consumer societies in which they have grown up have meant.

In general, it can be said that, in Guadalajara, the markets for local and organic products are the ones that have experienced the greatest increase in the last ten years; however, only eight of the more than 20 identified have been considered social markets. The main difference between one and the other is that local markets tend to specialize in the sale of manufactured products from the region, usually artisanal and offered by their producers. Although sometimes they are also established commercial premises, where an intermediary concentrates the products and does the marketing work, without highlighting any critical or transformative perspective. On the other hand, social markets bring together and articulate different actors and products of the region, which represent processes of transformation of social and economic practices and relations at different scales.

Although not all organic and organic markets have a social, fair or community profile, they can be considered alternatives by those seeking safer and healthier food and personal care. But those that interest us are the social markets that promote relationships and principles of collaboration, solidarity and trust through exchange systems, cooperative consumption, participatory certification, visits to producers, etc., which are part of economic solidarity circuits of greater dimension “that can encompass larger areas of economic activity, needs and space” (Moreno Izquierdo, 2014: 302-303), and whose territory of influence extends beyond its location and activities, and even transcends virtual space and social, emotional, intellectual or protection needs (Max Neef et al., 2010).

In the case of barter networks, they facilitate direct exchanges of goods and services between their members, without the intermediation of money. Those that exist in the city are open, although there are also between specific communities –such as visual artists or poets– or specialized communities –plants, seeds, clothing or art–, while those where favors circulate are called mutual aid networks, and in they exchange work, knowledge, care and services.

The idea of conscious consumption implicitly accompanies any alternative economy proposal, but it constitutes the guiding principle of some such as the Milpa Consumer Cooperative, the Flor de Luna Alternative Market or the Comalli Cooperative, organizations dedicated to the distribution and commercialization of fresh food and preparations, as well as articles for personal and household care. Both in their core activities and in the dynamics of operation, they emphasize preferably local, safe, ecological, organized, self-managed and responsible consumption.

In the case of La Milpa, the dynamics of collaborative consumption can be complemented with the use of community currency, which is generated from work on organizational tasks and serves cooperative members as a means to supplement their payment. These coins are autonomous means of exchange, created and legitimized by the same community that uses them. They are often used as catalysts for local social and economic projects, as well as facilitators of economic transactions that would otherwise be unlikely to occur. And although we are not talking about conditions of shortage of official currency, the capacity of these tools to maintain the flow of goods and services under these conditions is more than known, as happened in Argentina with the 2001 crisis or in Spain in 2008-2009.

Through the alternatives documented in this work, it has not been possible to observe all the practical and social potential of these coins, mainly due to the weakness and intermittence of their manifestations; However, its usefulness is recognized in the exchange of products and services, but also in the generation of relationships that contribute to the development of empathy, trust and reciprocity among the members of a community (Santana Echeagaray, 2011). A relevant antecedent of something similar in the city was the Itacate, a social currency that circulated among producers of the then Expiatorio Cultural Corridor (Chaparro and Peredo, 2014) and that was accompanied by the Tláloc Network, a pioneer and leader in the matter at the national level. . Although this initiative was experimental, didactic and of short duration, it constituted the precedent of some more attempts to repeat it, such as the case of Xal, which circulated in the 2018 and 2019 emissions of the Festival de la Tierra in Zapopan.

The Grati Feria, or free fair, emerged in 2017 and maintained activities for a few months until 2018. Its itinerant format was presented in Guadalajara and Zapopan, in kinds of free bazaars through which it sought to promote values such as the gift, help and detachment. So far their activities are suspended, although on their Facebook profile they continue to share some occasional publications, especially on topics such as inclusion, minimalism, recycling and the local alternative agenda. Although during a day of Grati Feria it was possible to see people living on the streets, migrants or young students benefiting from clothes, shoes, food, school supplies, among other things, the experience lacked any philanthropic, altruistic or charitable sense, and responded more to a logic of circulation and better use of material goods.

It could be said that the most immediate precedent for the initiatives identified here are the social and solidarity economy organizations, specifically those that emerged in the state of Jalisco during the first decade of the century. xxi. Among the most representative entities of this period are the Network of Sustainable and Agricultural Alternatives of Jalisco -rasa in 2005–, formed by families of agroecological producers throughout the state; Maizud –2007 in Cuquío–, dedicated to the commercialization of corn in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara; o the Citizen Alliance for Alternative Regional Development in the south of the state -acdra/sruja-, made up of different cooperative groups and citizens. Some of them were linked to the Alternative Rural Financing System -sifra-, which arose in 2000 from the collaboration between the Ministry of Rural Development and the Technological Institute of Higher Studies of the West (iteso), and whose objective was to finance poor peasants in the state and promote cooperative associative forms (Díaz-Muñoz, 2008).

Between 2006 and 2007, the recovery process was completed by the workers of the Continental tire producer company, which became the cooperative tradoc (Democratic Workers of the West), located in El Salto, Jalisco; perhaps one of the most emblematic cases of contemporary cooperativism in the region, and also accompanied by the iteso. Further back there are references to the Producers of San Pedro Tlaquepaque - of corn in 1992 - or the Independent Peasant Organization of Jalisco -oicj, 1987 in Cuquío -, of which their ability to agglomerate a large number of producers and compete openly in capitalist markets was recognized, mainly. This seems to have led to the adoption of practices contrary to the principles of cooperativism and the solidarity economy, and more similar to those of any neoliberal capitalist company; a kind of pseudosolidarity economy that resorts to outsourcing, to pyramidal business models or exhaustion (Díaz Muñoz, 2008).

Although these last cases refer us to a cooperative movement of the union, union and corporate type rather than to the experiences identified in this investigation, their relevance is recognized taking into account that in the state of Jalisco there is not much tradition of the cooperative movement, and that At the time, they represented an alternative to the conventional model of economic organization. The history of the social and solidarity economy is recent and they are also linked to the creation of savings banks developed by the Catholic Church and to some fishing cooperatives, mutuals, rural and communal societies generated from government institutions (Díaz Muñoz, 2015).

Regarding alternative citizen proposals, the Guadalajara Solidarity Economy Network (2011) stands out, which at its best came to include four different projects: the Club del Trueque (exchange of goods), the Agroecological Barter (exchange of plants and seeds) , the School of Shared Skills and Knowledge (exchange of knowledge), and the Time Bank (exchange of services). But it did not achieve its self-management and disintegrated in 2013, when the organizing team made up of university students disintegrated. Most of these projects continued independently with some regularity, with the exception of the Time Bank, which failed to be reactivated despite the various attempts that have been made in recent years. Apparently, its management requires greater financial and human resources that have not been able to combine.

Other initiatives such as the Agroecological Market at Café Benito and the Alternative Cultural Corridor on the Expiatorio esplanade had their greatest boom during 2012 and 2013, when approximately 40 producers and exhibitors participated in each of these projects, and hundreds of people attended in order to week. The itacate, a community currency that became extinct along with the solidarity tianguis project, also circulated among the producers of the Corridor; This did not prevent some from continuing to participate in the project, now of a gastronomic and cultural nature, which continues to take place in the same space. Other cases, such as those of El Mercadito in Chapultepec and the Victoria Eco-Tianguis, of very short duration, are examples of projects that, like many, arise and disappear without a trace.

The universe of actors that converge in these initiatives is made up of consumers, traders, prosumers,3 producers, promoters and managers, merchants and intermediaries, collectives and organizations, accompanied by other actors such as teachers, researchers and the media. Among all of them there is a diversity of relationships in addition to the economic ones of a commercial nature, since, being in similar spaces of commercial vocation, they generate links of exchange, collaboration, help and gift.

The different actors found come from very diverse contexts, but their motivations, interests and objectives are similar; In their respective fields of competence, all seek a way to realize values and alternative forms of solidarity. At the same time, they were all born and educated in the bosom of modern capitalist society, they are part of institutions and participate in all kinds of them, they have jobs, consume and generate goods and services, contract loans, follow trends, compete in various ways. scopes, etc.

In each category there are differences derived from the nuances in participation, ideological orientation, the nature of the practices, technological appropriation, etc. Thus, it has been possible to distinguish, between producers, ecological farmers, organic farmers, artisan and cooperative producers, those who provide services, small businessmen or young entrepreneurs. Whereas, among the barters, one can distinguish those who are supportive, but also those who are more utilitarian, or the most libertarian; and among consumers, those who emphasize responsibility and collaboration –organization for consumption– stand out, but also the combative ones who, at every opportunity, seek to delegitimize the dominant thought. In the same way, the diversity in practices, techniques and meanings differentiates the ways of being a prosumer, manager, intermediary, etc.

The local phenomenon acquires a much more complex character if the ranches, farms and parcels that feed the fairs, markets and consumer cooperatives are taken into account, and which in this case numbered more than 30; even more so if the other external actors involved such as local universities, groups, the media, research centers, etc. are counted, which influence the way in which these proposals are perceived by society.

Thus, it is possible to observe the socio-territorial scope and limits of the potential alternative economy network that is being developed in Guadalajara, in which around 350 producers and merchants collaborate, approximately 65 promoters and managers, and more than 1,200 participants.4 which allows us to think about the parallel gestation of a kind of solidarity economic circuit5 regional support. However, although it is still not possible to speak of a project of such magnitude in this city, it is essential to begin by recognizing the efforts that are being made now and orienting them towards a common local project in which the vocation of the region is rescued and generated the necessary inclusion processes, aspects that are not observed in the current local scene.

The concept of economic geographies refers to the spatial and geographical characteristics of capitalism, its constructions and material landscapes, circuits of consumption, exchange and production, its networks, flows and forms of association; at the same time, they are socio-political constructions formed by social and power relations at various scales (Zademach and Hillebrand, 2013). The emergence of fairer ways of relating and associating, of less environmentally impactful material aspirations, and of more reciprocal and sustainable economic circuits are part of the constitution of new alternative economic geographies,6 configured by sites, contexts, scales and spaces in which the forms, relationships and means of life try to separate themselves from the dominant capitalist patterns of economic behavior (Zademach and Hillebrand, 2013).

After the findings presented here, it is considered possible to speak of future new economic geographies in the city or of solidarity circuits of economic integration in the region, but for now we can only recognize how the few and small existing initiatives, presented in Map 1, represent spaces of alternation and solidarity for its participants. Besides being options for the exchange and consumption of goods and services, they mean an opportunity to express discontent and political stance; they are elements of ideological distinction with respect to other social sectors and an investment for a better personal and family future, but also a collective and global one.

In this sense, Mariana, who participates every month in the Tianguis del Barter that takes place in the Parque del Refugio in Guadalajara, recognizes that she enjoys talking with people who, like her, “know that the system no longer works, and they are looking for other ways of living ”, so it tries to get involved in as many initiatives as possible. Thus, it seeks to inform itself and provide feedback on its role as a consumer and potential producer of services. For his part, Fernando, a 49-year-old teacher, recognizes himself among those who participate in the barter club and other solidarity economy organizations, as they are people who, like him, “think and see the world differently, they are people who believe that you can live differently, "he says.

And although the horizon where their utopias are inserted seems extremely distant because it implies the profound transformation of the logics and paradigms that govern today, what stands out among the emerging network of economic alternatives in Guadalajara are the efforts of those who believe in construction. of what they consider desirable. This utopia and these efforts proliferate and are repeated in other cities of the country and the world, such as Mexico, Querétaro, Madrid, Bristol or Detroit, which could mean the gradual popularization of the proposals and the expansion of the movement.

Walk into another world

Between initiatives and between participants, the horizon that gives meaning to the practices considered alternatives is that of the possibility of building, through them, another world governed by the principles of solidarity, justice, sustainability, etc. Understanding the main features that make up this other possible world has been feasible, mainly, through direct dialogue with the different actors who conceive it, participation in the initiatives that promote it, and volunteering in operational tasks. Below are the main aspects that stand out in the imagination of those who participate in alternative economy initiatives and other transformative projects, which contribute to outlining an idea of what this other world represents.

These points are shown in a simple way, although they have deep justifications that cannot be detailed here. Through their daily economic practices, the initiatives they adhere to, and the social relationships they generate through them, the interviewed participants bet on the world they consider viable and affordable, which is partially outlined below due to which is still under construction. However, the elements that manage to be placed allow us to think about where a project of such nature and magnitude could be outlined.

Social awareness, citizen participation, political militancy and commitment

For the interviewees, social and citizen participation is a fundamental part of personal life, key in triggering changes in the representations of everyday life, in mobilizing for the defense of human and environmental rights, in monitoring and accountability of the governments, and in the incidence in the public policies. Both are considered important mechanisms for the formation of leaders and loyal representatives capable of collaborating with other actors, intervening in matters of common interest and influencing decisions that benefit utopias.

And although criticism and negative opinions about political institutions and governments are often shared among sympathizers of alternative economies, relations with them are increasingly conceived from a strategic logic of occupying institutional spaces, not to gain power but to gain influence. ideological and allies, in addition to being able to channel resources and voice to the social causes that matter. “I bet on all the trenches,” says Érika, a 32-year-old social worker, assuming herself as a public servant of the municipality, at the same time that she is a passionate militant and activist in more than seven different anarcho-eco- initiatives and organizations. feminist.

Articulation of the ecosystem of social and alternative movements

Among those who promote alternative economic practices and organizations, it is urgent to articulate the nascent ecosystem of initiatives and groups under a common agenda, which would mean the beginning of a process of organization and empowerment that would trigger the construction of common projects and social cohesion. Based on trends in other cities in the world, where the conformation of neighborhoods, areas or solidarity districts that concentrate various projects, shops and alternative-type enterprises, such as social enterprises, cooperatives of all kinds, alternative markets, bazaars of the free, social centers, self-managed housing, among others, the possibility of developing similar scenarios in Guadalajara and its surroundings is envisioned.

Change of representations and positioning of other imaginaries, ways of life and coexistence

In addition to helping to satisfy some specific needs for food, personal care or health, participation in alternative economy initiatives contributes to forming critical and purposeful citizens, as well as transforming social, political and economic representations by positioning different imaginations with respect to relationships. social, the ways of producing, exchanging, consuming, living, organizing and living together (Cameron and Gibson, 2005). The participants aspire to earn a living and still have time to spend with friends, family and the community, to carry out activities that complement their daily work, consumption and production, such as agroecological food crops, production and the exchange of domestic handicraft products or the exchange of professional knowledge and services.

For this reason, some are committed to a holistic, comprehensive, inclusive and humanistic education for their children, which incorporates the influence of traditional, popular and socio-family forms of coexistence. At the same time they recognize the importance of perspective decolonial, criticism and complex thinking as mechanisms to detonate disruptions in the logic and current forms of organization. For some feminism
and the gender perspective contain sufficient competence to monitor the permanent criticism of the patriarchal model of civilization, in addition to making visible the role of women in the social reproduction of life, in the struggles for its defense, as well as in the construction of alternatives. .

Protection and recovery of health and the environment

An important part of the discourses and alternative practices emphasize the structural nature of the crisis and pay special attention to its environmental and health effects, denoting the hope of being able to influence the recovery and conservation of natural areas, or the effective application of laws, regulations and sanctions to crimes against the environment and health. However, it is the transformation of the forms of
consuming, producing and disposing of what society could reduce the effects of agribusiness and the food industry on people's health and the environment in which they live.

Among the homes where alternative economic practices are incorporated, the provision of basic health managed from home is common, especially through a culture of good nutrition and the preventive use of traditional and alternative medicine. These practices precede and complement the care offered in the different public and private health systems, and these may be integrated, in the future, those managed collectively, cooperatively and autonomously. In another possible world, anyone would have options of access to quality and free health care, either through their social and family networks or through public, social or alternative systems.


Social, economic, political, urban and technological innovation is extremely important in the consolidation of new economic, environmental, health and socio-political projects encompassed in the idea of another possible world. It is known that to achieve something like this requires visionary and innovative governments that promote public policies and legal frameworks that protect economic diversity and the sustainable administration of societies. In turn, in the social sphere, organized people could self-manage some of the necessary resources and satisfiers through coordination and collaboration between producers and consumers in a territory, thereby enabling the creation of new effective models of urban development and rural designed on a small scale.

The findings presented here suggest the beginning of a gradual social transformation that is gradually permeating more sectors of society. Some of the referenced initiatives already have important trajectories and experiences that could be considered exemplary in terms of how to articulate practices, discourses and utopias. And although here an attempt has been made to integrate all the stakes and expectations around the idea of another possible world, in reality each initiative and organization projects a particular scenario based on its own causes and priorities, whether they are gender or rural issues. , conscious consumption, and so on.

Efforts to build alternatives at any level or scale are noteworthy; However, one of the weakest aspects in the local scene is the political identity of its participants, as few initiatives seek exclusive activities for reflection, dialogue and political organization. Most limit themselves to expressing some positions through their provisions, printed discourse or social networks, leaving their own information and political training in the hands of the people. With the exception of some organizations of the agroecological or regional feminist movements, among the alternative economy initiatives there is little provision for activities that contribute to developing a deeper and more committed critical perspective among the participants, which is reflected in the low levels of militancy and volunteering.

There is also a significant lack of innovative models that transform processes, relationships and ways of promoting alternatives. In this sense, only a couple of initiatives show familiarity with tools such as the internet, social networks and softwares for the communication and dissemination of the proposals. While recycling and the imitation of models and forms of organization and operation are common, which seems to affect the ability to innovate based on the particular needs of people and the region.

Although there is still a long way to go, enormous advances can be counted; every day more people come to local markets and producer fairs, more and more establishments that refuse to handle single-use plastics, or supermarkets that have islands of local products. But we must not forget the ease with which this can lead to other polluting, exploitative or extractive practices if care is not taken that the best option is also the least polluting, the most socially just, the most economically viable, etc .; if the habit of reflection and the development of conscience is not taken care of.


Although the search for alternative models of production and organization to capitalism is not recent, the conditions in which the initiatives found arise are recent, since in addition to the technological and communicational resources that they can count on, they are strongly linked to environmental, human rights, territory defense, gender perspective struggles, among others in force. And although the phenomenon has been known and studied academically for decades, in the case of Guadalajara it seems to remain in a prolonged incipient and disjointed phase, which has experienced a certain boom during the last ten or twelve years, but which has not finished consolidating.

Due to the principles that guide them, the practices and the relationships they promote, alternative economy initiatives are considered by some participants and scholars islands of reciprocity that emerge as resistance to the effects of economic globalization. The interconnection between them, their components and the actors, form local collaboration networks that, by connecting with other local networks, can generate regional circuits of economic integration from a solidarity perspective (Méndez Gutiérrez del Valle, 2018), which are relevant in the present when there are not many spaces for difference.

And although it is still not possible to speak of a project of such magnitude in the city, it is important to begin by recognizing the efforts that are being made now, generating channels for its orientation towards a common project at a local scale in which the vocation of the region and the necessary inclusion processes are generated, aspects that are not observed in the current local scene. However, it could be said that there are two aspects in which progress stands out, one is the efforts made from various fronts (such as managers, producers, universities, among others) to achieve a greater and better articulation of the alternative ecosystem and its different components. , and another is the integration and linking of initiatives in efforts for the protection and recovery of health and the environment at the local level.

In these senses, the capacity for collaboration between actors from different organizations to achieve specific objectives is noteworthy. An example of this is the citizen committee for participatory certification of the El Jilote agroecological market, where members of different consumer groups participate alongside academics, promoters and producers. Or the alternative market Flor de Luna, which is part of a network of networks of environmental defenders, sustainable and organized producers, especially in southern Jalisco.

In the latter case, the market and the products that are traded in it are the result of processes of organization, empowerment and resistance, with a strong gender perspective, in various regions of the state and the country; a good example of the necessary political articulation between actors. This experience shows the way in which coordinated work throughout a territory and collaboration with other sectors - universities, research centers and churches - could result, for example, in influencing public policies or changing paradigms from the practice in the social base, both quite valuable contributions.

The need to change the ways in which life is reproduced and organized cannot be postponed, the recovery of forests, rivers and beaches during the first weeks of confinement in the world by the virus of the sarscorv2 clearly reflects the impact that human life forms and practices have on the environment. When this virus burst into the reality of all, the lack of ethical criteria has been evidenced in many of the ways in which a large part of human activities are carried out, such as the production and trade of food or drugs, public health, mass tourism, politics, economics, etc. Although more and more people realize it, few really know how it affects, what to do or what measures to take, so any kind of effort to disseminate and reflect on it is essential.

The possibility of visualizing a significant number of organizations and enterprises from alternative economies in the metropolitan area is even more encouraging given the profound post-pandemic economic crisis that is being announced. Now the benefits of trade and local consumption in the medium-scale economy are highlighted and the properties of organic food for the benefit of health are discussed. On a global scale these experiences are taking shape and they have more and more supporters, every day there are more people convinced that the best thing is alternative production, self-production, reducing the carbon footprint, conscious consumption, etc. They are processes that are taking place all over the world and that are worth highlighting because they account for a greater change that can be seen from afar.


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Elizabeth Chaparro and Peredo is a graduate of the doctoral program in ciesas Occidente, graduated in Sociology from the University of Guadalajara and has a master's degree in communication of science and culture from the iteso, has been interested in the study of the social and solidarity economy and the forms, practices and economic relations considered alternatives. These include community currencies, bartering and conscious consumption. She has participated in community development and popular education projects with marginalized women and youth, especially through civil society organizations.

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Encartes, vol. 4, núm 7, marzo 2021-agosto 2021, es una revista académica digital de acceso libre y publicación semestral editada por el Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, calle Juárez, núm. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte Norte, A. C., Carretera escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, núm. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, México, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, e Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, núm. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434. Contacto: Directora de la revista: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Alojada en la dirección electrónica Responsable de la última actualización de este número: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Fecha de última modificación: 15 de abril de 2021.

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