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Social Commons.

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Over 900 representatives of the international scholarly community from 62 countries have taken part in the club’s work. They include professors of major world universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Stanford, Carleton University, the University of London, Cairo University, the University of Teheran, East China University, the University of Tokyo, Tel Aviv University, the University of Messina, Johns Hopkins University, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Sciences Po and the Sorbonne.

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Francine MESTRUM

Social Commons: A New Alternative to Neoliberalism. 17/06/2015






‘Commons’ are all the things that ‘we’ (at whatever level) decide have to become a ‘common’. This ‘we’ is part of the building of a political community cooperating in the definition of the common and in establishing the rules by which it can be used.

Till now, the concept has been used primarily to design natural elements, such as the seas, the forests, the mountains and the land. But it is also used in small-scale cooperation initiatives. Commons are created by cooperating people who decide how this common can be made available to all. It is a fundamental critique of private appropriation and ownership.

Commons can exist at the local, the national, the regional or the global level, but each time, universalism will apply at the level it was created. Several social constructions we are used to, can be made into commons.

A first candidate for this conceptual switch could be social protection. If there is anything that belongs to the people, having paid for it through taxes or via social contributions, it is precisely social protection.

When welfare states or social protection are perceived as commons, after a defining and regulating process, they can contribute to collective and individual welfare, as emerging from collective and participatory action. The commons sustain our common being, our being together, our co-existence. They go beyond individual interests.

In order to reform the existing social protection and to preserve some of its valuable basic principles, it is possible to start local, national, continental and global debates on what is wanted and needed.

Social commons offer a conceptual framework within which social and economic rights can be extended; it opens a new horizon with more decision-making power for people.