The Handbook of Diverse Economies
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The Handbook of Diverse Economies

Edited by J. K. Gibson-Graham and Kelly Dombroski

Economic diversity abounds in a more-than-capitalist world, from worker-recuperated cooperatives and anti-mafia social enterprises to caring labour and the work of Earth Others, from fair trade and social procurement to community land trusts, free universities and Islamic finance. The Handbook of Diverse Economies presents research that inventories economic difference as a prelude to building ethical ways of living on our dangerously degraded planet. With contributing authors from twenty countries, it presents new thinking around subjectivity and methodology as strategies for making other worlds possible.
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Chapter 18: Collectively performed reciprocal labour: reading for possibility

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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