This book is about the many approaches to the creation, dis- semination and maintenance of alternative, ‘bottom-up’ models for social or economic organisation, and the practical and theoretical implications, consequences and possibilities of these self-organised structures.
The term self-organisation is borrowed from systems theory and the natural sciences, where it describes systems whose internal organisation tends to increase in complexity without being guided by an outside source. In recent years it has been used in relation to certain kinds of social groups or networks; in this context, the term does not have a strict definition, but broadly speaking it refers to groups that are independent of institutional or corporate structures, are non-hierarchical, open and operate participatory decision-making processes. The counter-economic strategies discussed here are radical alternatives to classical capitalist economic organisation that exploit, or have been produced by, the existing global eco- nomic system.
Writers from different fields have been invited to investigate these themes with reference to particular situations. The essays they have contributed discuss a wide cross-section of activity, from new approaches to intellectual property and impact of the free/open source software movement to political activism and the de facto self-organisation embodied in informal architecture and the so-called black economy. They represent diverse, and sometimes conflicting, viewpoints and interpretations.
Self-organisation/Counter-economic strategies is not a com- prehensive overview or an attempt to unify these diverse in- terpretations. It is intended as a toolbox of ideas, situations and approaches, including both theoretical reflections and case-studies. In this spirit, we have also collected many short, practical examples of self-organised groups or strategies; the thematic index is intended to assist the reader in using the book from the point of view of their own area of interest.
This book has been produced as a result of Superflex’s resi- dency in the Amazon region of Brazil, organised by Cristina Ricupero for NIFCA. We would like to thank all of the writers and contributors, and to express our gratitude to Rasmus Koch, Sylvester Roepstorff, Christy Lange and Caroline Schneider for helping to turn the concept of this book into physical reality. We would also like to acknowledge the support of NIFCA; the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki; and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; and Montana, Denmark.