"The workers’ economy"

Self-management and Work as Alternatives to the Global Economic Crisis.

July 9-12, 2013, João Pessoa, Brazil.

In an international context where the global capitalist crisis is increasingly affecting European countries, especially along the Mediterranean, the only response from governments has been to implement a series of strict austerity measures. These austerity measures have been tried and tested in other parts of the world and have proven not only to fail to regenerate economies, but have lead to further impoverishment, structural unemployment, marginalization and insecurity for the majority of society who must work to earn a living. In response, large protest movements have begun to emerge in “developed” countries that are feeling the effects of the crisis the most, reinforcing the need for change in the management of the economy that not only contemplates the welfare of the working masses, but assures that they have a role in its management too.
In often-labeled “developing” countries, particularly throughout Latin America, social movements, popular organizations and labor movements have been developing processes of organization at a grass-roots level that in many cases take the form of worker self-management of economic units of goods and services. Such is the case of the worker-recovered businesses managed by the workers in Argentina, and other forms of worker-control, both urban and rural. In some instances, these movements have gained some recognition and support at a governmental level, bringing into question of the role of the state and the relationship between state power and the autonomy of the popular movement: on the one hand the state can be understood as a potential enhancer of these processes of worker-control, while on the other hand it can be perceived as an antagonistic instrument of traditional power with the potential to compromise the autonomy of self-management.
The IV International Gathering “The Economy of the Workers” seeks to explore these and other questions relating to the struggle of the workers from different perspectives and in different national contexts. It seeks to provide a space for discussion and debate using the experiences of worker economic control and self-management as a point of departure, bringing together the perspectives of academics, social activists, and the workers themselves. Together with worker-recovered businesses, cooperatives, labor movements and organizations, social movements, political groups and academics, among others, we have been developing the International Gathering and the themes explored within it, with representatives from over 20 countries participating in the previous gatherings. We reiterate here what we have emphasized in the previous conferences: ‘In non-hegemonic, if uneven, ways, workers are also inventing alternatives that are not limited to the economic, but that delve into wider cultural processes as well, which, based on non-capitalist relations of production, have opened more and more spaces for prefigurative politics. These alternative economic institutions are affording workers spaces to discuss issues such as internal power and gender structures, as well as the relationship between workers, workplaces, and their surrounding communities.  These processes, visible for example in the recovered factories, workers’ cooperatives, and micro-enterprises of the world, although incipient, show that workers can present and self-manage a more humane and sustainable alternative to corporate globalization.

The IV International Gathering will be held in the North Eastern state of Paraíba, Brazil, hosted by the Incubator for Social Entrepreneurship (INCUBES), Federal University of Paraiba and the Open Faculty Program of the University of Buenos Aires.

History of the International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy”

The International Gathering "The Economy of the Workers", whose first edition was held in Buenos Aires in July 2007 under the theme "Self-management and distribution of wealth", was organized by the Open Faculty Program of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires, in conjunction with academic institutions, social organizations and workers in Argentina and around the world. The Gathering emerged as a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences between academics, activists and workers about the problems and possibilities of self-management, a regeneration of a political, economic and social project by the working class and social movements, as well as to critically discuss and analyze the practices of academic investigation into these topics.

The Argentine experience of worker-control and self-management provided a solid basis for discussion for the first Gathering in 2007. These discussions evolved to take on an international nature by the second and third Gatherings (held in Buenos Aires in 2009, and in Mexico City in 2011) looking at, and learning from, the different experiences of the working class and social movements around the world, with an ultimate objective in mind of producing an alternative economic, social and political project than that which neoliberal global capitalism presents. In this sense the themes and discussion topics of the Gathering became more diverse, expanding to different areas of social struggles and critical thinking, yet still remaining true to the spirit of the Gathering that that its title suggests: how to think about, debate and construct an economy from the workers and worker self-management.


Thematic areas:
Proposals for panels and paper presentations may include, but are certainly not limited to, the following thematic areas :
1. Analysis of capitalist management of the economy and proposals for self-management

2. The new crisis of global capitalism: Analysis from the perspective of the economy of the workers

3. The historical trajectory of self-management: From traditional communities to labor movements.

4. Self-management in its actual stage: problems and possibilities. Worker-recovered businesses, cooperatives, and attempts at self-management by indigenous communities, peasants and social movements.

5. Self-management and Gender: creating democracy.

6. Analysis of the socialist experience: Past and future.

7. The challenges of trade union experiences in neoliberal global capitalism.

8. Informal, precarious, and degrading employment: ¿Social exclusion or reconfiguration of labor in global capitalism?

9. New movements in response to the global economic crisis: Perspectives from the struggle for self-management.

10. Challenges facing popular governments in the social management of the economy and the state.

11. The university, workers, and social movements: Debates over methodologies and practices of mutual construction.

12.  Pedagogy of self-management.


  • Organizational structure for the IV International Meeting “The Economy of the Workers”
    The IV International Gathering will take place on 9th thru 12th July, 2013 with morning and afternoon sessions, and will be open to the public.  There will be plenary sessions and workshops with the presentation of papers, videoconferencing, and a final plenary session with discussion and conclusions


  • Organizing Committee:

    Incubator for Social Enterprises (INCUBES) Fedeal University of Paraíba, João Pessoa, Brazil; Department of Social Relations of the Autonomous Metropolitan University-Xochimilco, Mexico; Programa Facultad Abierta (Open Faculty Program), Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Núcleo de Solidariedade Técnica (SOLTEC/UFRJ)


Instituto de Filosofía (Cuba)
Facultad de Filosofía e Historia de la Universidad de La Habana (Cuba)
Centro para la Justicia Global (San Miguel de Allende, México)
Programa de Antropología e Historia de la Relación Capital-Trabajo en el contexto contemporáneo, Centro de Estudios Avanzados, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.
Proyecto Argentina Autonomista
Federación Argentina de Trabajadores de Cooperativas Autogestionadas.
Núcleo de Apoio às Atividades de Extensão em Economia Solidária – NESOL/USP.

Núcleo de Estudos sobre o Trabalho Humano – NESTH/UFMG

  • Abstract submission deadline for papers :
    5 May 2013

  • Final papers submission deadline:
  • 30 June 2013


Norms for publication:
Résumé: maximum of one A4 page in Times New Roman 12, 1.5 spacing
Complete article: from 10 to 25 pages in Times New Roman 12, 1.5 spacing

The rules have been made simple deliberately so that people from non-academic circles make sure to send accounts of their activities.  It is a question of an event where the focus of interest is oninteraction between universities and the people’s social movements.

Participants will have to pay for themselves or look for financing.  There may be some very few cases of special invitations to people of notorious renown if the host (INCUBES-UFPB) has the means for that.

  • Please send abstracts for presentations to the following emails:
  • English: - Marcelo Vieta (Research Fellow, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (EURICSE), Trento, Italy, and York University, Toronto, Canada)

  • Portuguese:

  • - Mauricio Sardá (Coordinator of the Incubadora de Empreendimentos Solidários, Universidade Federal da Paraiba, Brazil)

  • Spanish:

  • - Documentation Centre of Worker-Recuperated Enterprises, Open Faculty Program, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina - Andrés Ruggeri (Director, Open Faculty Program) - Marco Augusto Gómez Solórzano (Director, Labor Studies, UAM-Xochimilco, Mexico)

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