Network I: Alternatives to Capitalism


The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing global economic recession of unprecedented depth is a once in a generation opportunity to challenge capitalism and transition to a more equitable, democratic, solidaristic and sustainable socio-economic system. Indeed, the present situation has revitalized public and academic debates about the future of capitalism and has demonstrated the urgent need to envision and enact alternatives that can help rebalance the economy and tackle the multiple intertwined crises that societies are currently facing: high and rising inequality of income and power, eroding democracy and citizen’s rights, human-induced climate change and environmental destruction.

The broad aim of this research network is to advance the international, comparative and interdisciplinary study of capitalism and its alternatives, and thereby contribute to debates on the future of capitalism, the commons, prefigurative politics, social movements and collective action, real utopias, radical politics, and heterodox economic thinking.

The main area of enquiry is to explore how long-standing and emerging social actors are challenging and supplanting conventional capitalistic modes of production, consumption, and reproduction by engaging in collective action of various sorts. We are especially interested in research that helps us to understand: Who are the emancipatory subjects that are embodying alternatives to capitalism? What are the emancipatory strategies enacted by these subjects and to what extent are they viable, achievable, and scalable? And in what ways does the State and the market co-opt, repress, or facilitate alternatives in the socio-economic, political, and geographic contexts in which they are embedded?

Our past annual gatherings in Berkeley (2016), Lyon (2017), Kyoto (2018), New York (2019), and more recently online (2020, 2021) have given rise to a new book series titled ‘Alternatives to Capitalism in the 21st Century’ and published by Bristol University Press.

The network encourages interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars form a variety of disciplines (e.g., sociology, social theory, social movement studies, political economy, anthropology, industrial relations, cultural studies) that are conducting theoretical and empirical research on a range of topics such as:  

  • Contemporary capitalism, its crises and alternatives
  • Social change, transitions to post-capitalist societies and low-carbon economies
  • Resilience and resistance to capitalist expropriation and exploitation
  • Radical/deep ecology, eco-feminism, eco-socialism and degrowth
  • Political and ethical consumerism
  • Ecovillages, communes and intentional communities, radical lifestyles
  • Decolonial and feminist economic and social practices
  • Worker/producer/consumer cooperatives, economic democracy, and labour struggles
  • Direct democracy, radical municipalism and the commons
  • Democratic socialism and socialism in the 21st century
  • Alternatives to shareholder capitalism
  • Alternative metrics and values in capitalist societies (e.g., ESG impact, new taxonomies and benchmarks)
  • Critiques of “green capitalism” and “conscious capitalism”
  • Alternative and complementary currencies
  • Alternatives in/to creative industries
  • Transformative social innovation, social and solidarity economy
  • Alternative and place-based food and energy networks
  • Anti-capitalist trade unions, political parties, and social movements
  • Critical pedagogy for a just ecological transition
  • Innovative methods and epistemologies for interpreting alternatives to capitalism