Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Enterprises Recovered by Their Workers in Argentina: An Assessment of Articulations of Reciprocity with Society1

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Enterprises Recovered by Their Workers in Argentina: An Assessment of Articulations of Reciprocity with Society1

Article excerpt

Abstract: In Argentina, the recovery of enterprises is the conceptualization used to make reference to a heterogeneous set of processes in which workers of enterprises in crisis, organized in cooperatives, take control of production. Since 2001, recovered enterprises emerged as a response from workers to processes of wage infringement in a context of deep social, economic and political crisis. This became a paradigmatic case of the social economy. These enterprises' recovery processes introduced numerous innovations in the productive units. One of these innovations refers to the relationships not mediated by the market that recovered enterprises establish with society. The development of these non-mercantile articulations has been a highly valued feature of recovered enterprises, generally assumed to have a motivation related to solidarity and reciprocity. However, how do workers justify and value them? To what extent do they perceive these articulations as actions of solidarity? In the case that solidarity is an underlying motivation, is it the only one? On the basis of two surveys conducted in Buenos Aires City, this article analyses the assessments and perceptions of workers from recovered enterprises regarding non-mercantile articulations, so as to elucidate the underlying logics and motivations. Three rationales supporting the development of these articulations are identified: social alliance, utility and good relationships. The study shows there are links between the ideas about non-mercantile articulations, specific attributes of recovered enterprises and the criteria of efficiency prioritized by workers, which accounts for the building of other logics over strictly economic and mercantile rationality.

Keywords: recovered enterprises; Argentina; social economy; non-mercantile articulations; reciprocity.

1. Introduction

The implementation of a social economy in the contemporary world is a significant strategy for social inclusion and economic development based in the territories and local communities. In this sense, since late last century, there has been a remarkable expansion of socio-economic initiatives in Argentina, developed as a social response to the exclusion from the labor market suffered by a great portion of Latin American societies.

In this study we will focus on one of these socio-economic initiatives: recovered enterprises. In Argentina, the recovery of enterprises is the conceptualization used to make reference to a heterogeneous set of processes in which workers of enterprises that are in crisis organize in cooperatives and take control of production (Rebón, 2004, 2007). Since the end of the nineties, and particularly in the context of the profound economic, social and political crisis that took place in Argentina in 2001, thousands of salaried employees across the country advanced towards taking over the direction of production as a way of combating different processes of wage infringement (Fajn, 2003; Rebón, 2007; Salgado, 2009). According to the Program of Self-managed Labor, depending of the Labor Ministry of Argentina, there are currently 286 recovered enterprises at a national level, while in Buenos Aires City-the capital city of Argentina and area of reference of this article-there are 50 recovered enterprises1 (Revista del Observatorio Social sobre Empresas Recuperadas y Autogestionadas, 2013).

In the context of a strong social crisis, the recovery of enterprises was seen by workers as the only remaining alternative to preserve their source of labor, which is the foundation of their social identity. In the action of recovery, while advancing towards the direction of production, these workers materialized processes of empowerment - new degrees of freedom facing pre-existing heteronomies-, equalization and institutional innovation (Rebón, 2004, 2007).

In this sense, these processes have introduced numerous innovations in the productive units managed by workers. …

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