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Katherine Gibson

Collectively performed reciprocal labour is performed the world over. It involves a non-monetized exchange of group work done by community members for the benefit usually of one community member or household. The expenditure of group manual labour is rewarded by reciprocation, that is, the practice of group work on another member’s task at a later date. The rules of reciprocity vary and are differently enforced according to context. What is intriguing about reciprocal labour is the way in which it combines relations of collective sharing and individual benefit. This chapter sheds light on the ubiquity of collectively performed reciprocal labour exchange, thereby establishing its legitimacy in a diverse economy. The author ‘reads for difference’ and speculates on how this form of labour exchange might be deployed to a variety of ends, including that of building community economies.

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Jenny Cameron and Katherine Gibson

This chapter discusses how research can be part of a social action agenda to build new economies. This research is based on collaborations between researchers and research participants, and involves three interwoven strategies. The first focuses on developing new languages of economy; the second, on decentring economic subjectivity; and the third, on collective actions to consolidate and build economic initiatives. The chapter illustrates how these strategies feature in three research projects. The first project was based in the Philippines and involved working with an NGO and two municipalities to pilot pathways for endogenous economic development. The second project was based in the US Northeast and used participatory mapping techniques to reveal the use and stewardship of marine resources. The third project was based in Australia and focused on environmentally sustainable and socially and economically just forms of manufacturing. These projects resulted in collective actions that created new economic options.