Article. Digital platforms: consumption groups and cooperatives vs. The Food Assembly in the case of Barcelona

Article cover of "Consumption groups and cooperatives in Barcelona"
Consumption groups and cooperatives in Barcelona (article)

Ricard Espelt, Núria Vega and I have just published an article at on consumption cooperatives: Plataformas digitales: grupos y cooperativas de consumo versus La Colmena que dice sí, el caso de Barcelona (Digital platforms: consumption groups and cooperatives vs. The Food Assembly in the case of Barcelona).

The article compares the emergence of agroconsumption groups and cooperatives in Barcelona since the mid 1990s with the most recent appearance of (presumably) platform cooperativism-based initiatives such as The Food Assembly.

The main conclusions are that while agroconsumption groups and cooperatives are deeply rooted in the social and solidarity economy, and most of the times in the sharing economy, some platform-based initiatives not only do not share this principles but, as it is the case of The Food Assembly, they do not even match in what we understand by platform cooperativism.

The article is in Spanish. An abstract in English follows and then the link for downloading the full paper.

Abstract

The cooperative tradition around the consumption of agro-food products has a strong historical background in the city of Barcelona. Even if we refer to the first modern consumer cooperatives, we realize that their task has twenty-five years of permanence (Espelt et al, 2015). More recently —in July 2014— appears in the city another initiative of consumption to facilitate direct sales between local producers and communities of consumers, called food assemblies. Although the origins and differences between models are evident, they both share some common aspects in their approaches —willingness to self-manage, disintermediation of production and building a community—, articulated as part of the so-called “Collaborative Economy”. For their part, both types of initiatives, although with a very different approach, have in technology an important backbone for their activity. In this article, we analyze the points of encounter and discrepancy between the two actors as a model, placing the research framework in the city of Barcelona, where —in March 2017— we located some sixty groups and consumer cooperatives (Espelt et al., 2015) And thirteen food assemblies, six in operation and seven under construction. Emphasizing as differential factors, economic, technical, legal aspects, type of governance, values associated with the model or linked to the relationship between people, producers, final product or space.

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Article:
Espelt, R., Peña-López, I. & Vega Rodríguez, N. (2017). “Plataformas digitales: grupos y cooperativas de consumo versus La Colmena que dice sí, el caso de Barcelona”. In Redes.com, 15, 145-174. Revista de estudios para el desarrollo social de la comunicación. Sevilla: NMI/Compolíticas.

Appropriating Technology for Accountability (XII). So what?

Notes from the Appropriating Technology for Accountability, part of the Making All Voices Count program, organized by Institute of Development Studies and held in Brighton, UK, on 25-26 October 2017. More notes on this event: allvoicescount.

So what?
Chair: Prof Melissa Leach, IDS

Deus Rweyemamu, independent

Governments are especially receptive to new proposals in times of crisis: Wait for a crisis to bring your solution to the government.

Before scaling up, think of scaling down: can it be done more effectively? Can it be done more efficiently? Etc.

Technology is a pain-killer, but it is not the cure.

Adi Eyal, Open Up

Specific technologies require specific methodologies and specific environments.

Same for people: you need to find the right people for any given scenario. Do not choose the technology: choose the technologist.

Edwin Huizing, Hivos, Making All Voices Count;

Projects have not to become too technical or too institutional if we expect people to own them.

Civil society space is shrinking. We need to create space, and this is done by building trust in civil society actions and with citizenry at large.

Judith Herbertson, DFID;

There is an interesting negotiation between civil society organizations, which want to push an issue forward, and governments, which should represent all citizens. This negotiation can be — and should be — a creative effort to achieve consensus around common lines of action.

Let’s stop talking about “failure” and let’s talk instead about what worked, what did not work and what can be done differently.

Joe Powell, OGP Support Unit

Civil servants have to be considered part of civil society, actors that have to be included in projects about governance and democracy. Governments are part of society too. We need a coalition of leadership from civil servants, subnational leaders and civil society organizations.

Opening spaces in governments should bring dividends for politicians, so that they have incentives to do it.

Making All Voics Count: Appropriating Technology for Accountability (2017)

Appropriating Technology for Accountability (XI). Lessons about supporting work in this field

Notes from the Appropriating Technology for Accountability, part of the Making All Voices Count program, organized by Institute of Development Studies and held in Brighton, UK, on 25-26 October 2017. More notes on this event: allvoicescount.

Lessons about supporting work in this field
Chairs: Ellen Pieterse

How could you the work in this field be better supported?

Ideally, research should provide ground for the design of intervention projects, and then come back to these projects and, more than assess them (which is OK), do more research after them. Constraints (time, money, convenience) make that, sometimes, research and practice, though related, are not intertwined and enriching one each other.

Pre-grants, to design better projects, provide some evidence, etc. could be an option to have better designed and better grounded projects.

In knowledge intensive projects, creating a community to exchange knowledge between different people involved in different projects can be a way to support each other, identify best practices, develop capacity, identify trends and core issues in the field, etc.

It is usually said that an organization that learns, an organization that adapts to the context, is better. But have we measured this improved performance? We should. We should measure the relationship between learning organizations and successful organizations.

The cycle of projects, beginning and ending every three or four years make it more difficult to apply what you learned in either the same or the next project. How do we continue to learn and build knowledge in the long run.

How can programmes like MAVC enable, capture and use internal learning to be more adaptive?

The best way to encourage learning is to incentivize it. There has to be an experiencing of an issue to learn from it, and then a period of reflection to settle knowledge. This should be included in the design (funds, resources, etc.) of the project.

Fostering communities of practice also helps in building knowledge together.

When there are synergies in sharing knowledge, in the sense that the collective can achieve higher grounds than acting individually, then collaboration makes sense and is a sufficient incentive to learn together. E.g. in qualitative research, where results might be difficult to compare, sharing methodologies, sharing approaches, working together may imply that the individual results can be compared and thus produce an “extra” piece of knowledge, which is the comparison itself.

Making All Voics Count: Appropriating Technology for Accountability (2017)

Appropriating Technology for Accountability (X). What has MAVC learnt about supporting work in this field?

Notes from the Appropriating Technology for Accountability, part of the Making All Voices Count program, organized by Institute of Development Studies and held in Brighton, UK, on 25-26 October 2017. More notes on this event: allvoicescount.

What has MAVC learnt about supporting work in this field?
Framer: Fletcher Tembo, Programme Director, MAVC

How you actualize your theory of change as a project deploys? Can you? Should you? Testing is fundamental, and adjusting your assumptions the most clever thing to do. But not only the “theory” has to adapt, but also program management.

In such a flexible, liquid environment, trust and relationships play an important role, as they let you move quickly and with confidence. It is important to include an adequate inception phase for building an appropriate consortium.

Host: Walter Flores, CEGSS (Centre for Equity in Health Systems Governance), Guatemala
Panellists: Helena Bjuremalm, Sida; Debby Byrne, MAVC; David Sasaki, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation; Lu Ecclestone, Department for International Development; Michael Canares, Web Foundation/Open Data Lab Jakarta

How do we turn the new knowledge that we have into new practices?

How do we select people? According to the challenges? Their experience? Their capacity? Choosing is a matter of who you exclude from your project, which is hard. The usual suspects may be good, because they have proven their value in the past, but also bad, just because they are “usual”, meaning that maybe not new people or new approaches will come from them.

Are donors comfortable with experimentation? Sometimes donors find a “window of opportunity” due to some political will to foster a specific issues, and then they take the chance to try something new, with new people. The problem is that these windows of opportunity sometimes remain open for very limited time, and hence programs are designed in a rush, without taking into account all the variables that matter. On the other hand, sometimes there is a sense of urgency to foster a field and when the opportunity comes one feels like it is now or never.

New landscapes come with new approaches and tools: innovative governance work requires innovative monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Having a flexible, multilayer/multistakeholder network can be very handy. Each organization/layer can concentrate on what they do best (draw the general strategy, find the partners, develop the projects, etc.). Rigid and hierarchical structures, who want to have control over the whole program, may not be the best option. E.g. donors should commit the money and get out of the way, after participating in identifying what success looks like. In this new scenario, fostering collaboration instead of competition is the way, especially complementary collaboration.

Grant making architecture should be inclusive by design and more prone to assume risks.

Keys to design proposals: think big, think of the partners, think about the problems to be solved, think about your liaison with other civic organizations and/or individual citizens at large.

Making All Voics Count: Appropriating Technology for Accountability (2017)

Appropriating Technology for Accountability (IX). Open Government Partnership (II)

Notes from the Appropriating Technology for Accountability, part of the Making All Voices Count program, organized by Institute of Development Studies and held in Brighton, UK, on 25-26 October 2017. More notes on this event: allvoicescount.

Open Government Partnership
Breakout session

What are the challenges and opportunities in trying to bring the OGP ‘closer to the people’?

There is a need to link what happens at the national level and what happens at the local level. See if there is a thread linking both (or more) levels).

What is the enabling environment that exists at the local level? Can it be transposed at other levels? (and vice-versa)

Open government is about generating new types of citizen engagement.

What role do technologies play in this?

Access to technology is an absolute priority. But effective use of access comes with specific skills and in specific cultural contexts.

The government could co-own a system with the people.

Can we have open government without open data about budgeting or expenditure?

There is a difference between seeing open government as a tool and seeing it as a governance strategy for a change of democratic culture. In this sense, it might be very different to approach open government from the transparency and accountability point of view or the collaboration (and co-management) point of view.

Making All Voics Count: Appropriating Technology for Accountability (2017)

Appropriating Technology for Accountability (VIII). Open Government Partnership (I)

Notes from the Appropriating Technology for Accountability, part of the Making All Voices Count program, organized by Institute of Development Studies and held in Brighton, UK, on 25-26 October 2017. More notes on this event: allvoicescount.

Open Government Partnership
Framer: Alan Hudson, Global Integrity

Political transitions and tech:

  • Adapting to political tarnsitions and challenges.
  • Revising assumptions and approaches to technology.

Multiple models:

  • No blueprints for localising OGP.
  • Evolving and tailored strategies.
  • Value of learning journeys and exchanges.
  • Increasing effectiveness and impact.

What might be the implications for OGP?

  • Political transitions and tech.
  • Multiple models, tailored approaches.
  • Value of supporting real-time learning.
  • … in country (sub-national) and cross-country…
  • … about political (and technical ) challenges.

Host: Munyema Hasan, Open Government Partnership Support Unit
Panellists: Patrick Lim: INCITE-Gov; Maria Lauranti PRAKARSA; Suyoto Ngartep Mustaja: Regent, Bojonegoro Regency, Indonesia; Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership/OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism; Benjamin Diokno, Secretary of Budget and Management, Government of Philippines

While national level OGP frames the world-wide debate of open government, the sub-national level of OGP aims at being much more specific, ambitious and especially applied to the reality of citizens’ everyday life.

There is the belief, among political representatives, that transparency goes in detriment to power: “if I am transparent, people will not need the government, and I will be useless”. This is just false. On the contrary, transparency builds trust, and with trust comes legitimacy and thus more power to make decisions and to do things.

Open government — and the Open Government Partnership — is a political project, not a tool. OGP needs to be a wider project of open governance which builds openness norms to survive political transitions. Political transition is a constant. If a program is good, new governments should adopt it and improve it.

Open government is about citizen oriented governance.

Making All Voics Count: Appropriating Technology for Accountability (2017)

About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.