Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Chapter 34: Microfinance, cooperatives and time banks: community-provided welfare
Grassroots activists have become increasingly creative in building solutions to contemporary social problems. Many of these issues stem from the shortcomings of two dominant social institutions – the state and the economy. Citizens in post-industrial societies have struggled to maintain an adequate standard of living as poverty, unemployment and underemployment are persistent and growing problems under global capitalism. Demographic changes and the resulting aging of our societies add further challenges to economic well-being. In this chapter, three examples of community-provided welfare are explored and assessed in relation to aging and demographic changes. As Zack de la Rocha (1999) rapped in a Rage Against the Machine song at the eve of the new millennium, ‘Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long.’ People have become less reliant upon mainstream social institutions and are creating local alternatives to complement or counter the capitalist economy and state. Microfinance, cooperatives and time banks are all examples of communities engaging in do-it-yourself (DIY) efforts to increase access to resources. In addition to the objectives of economic empowerment, such localism usually aims to build social capital.
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