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`A hopeful but nonetheless hard-hitting analysis of alternative economic spaces proliferating in the belly of the capitalist beast. In this book Leyshon, Lee and Williams convene fascinating studies of exchange, enterprise, credit and community. They invite us onto a new and promising discursive terrain where we can analyze, criticize and above all recognize actually existing economies of diversity in the wealthy countries of the West' - J K Gibson-Graham, Australian National University and University of Massachusetts, Amherst In the context of problems in the "new economy" - from dot.com start-ups, high-technology, and telecoms - Alternative Economic Spaces presents a critical evaluation of alternatives to the global economic mainstream. It focuses on the emergence of alternative economic geographies within developed economies and analyzes the emergence of alternative economic practices within industrialized countries. These include the creation of institutions like Local Exchange and Trading Systems, Credit Unions, and other social economy initiatives; and the development of alternative practices from informal work to the invention of consumption sites that act as alternatives to the monoply of the `big-box', multi-chain retail outlets. Alternative Economic Spaces is a reconsideration of what is meant by the `economic' in economic geography; its objective is to bring together some of the ways in which this is being undertaken. The volume shows how the `economic' is being rethought in economic geography by detailing new economic geographies as they are emerging in practice.

Alternative Exchange Spaces
Alternative exchange spaces
Coin C.Williams, TheresaAldridge and JaneTooke

Academics and policy-makers now widely embrace the social economy as an ‘alternative’ tool for combating social exclusion. To what, however, is it an alternative? And how does the answer given to this shape whether it is considered an effective alternative? Our argument in this chapter is that there are at least two ways of answering this question and that the answer heavily influences whether the social economy is considered to be an effective ‘alternative’ to the ‘mainstream’.

The first approach is to define the economic space of the social economy as an ‘alternative’ to the formal sphere (Archibugi, 2000; Community Development Foundation, 1995; ECOTEC, 1998; European Commission, 1996, 1997, 1998; Fordham, 1995; OECD, 1996). In this view, ...

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