The 17th century philosopher Spinoza, writing at a time of immense political and religious turbulence, believed that one of the most important political sentiments is hope (so Barack Obama was ploughing a well-worn furrow). As individuals we are relatively weak compared to the cumulative powers of others, but Spinoza said that when we come together through “a common hope” we are strengthened. In these current turbulent times the need to come together has never been more evident.
This is why I am delighted that the Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths is hosting a major conference on cooperation and the collaborative economy, Open:2017 Platform Cooperatives on the 16th -17th February here at Goldsmiths (a few tickets are still available here).
We are hosting this conference because, as a department we champion new approaches to the organisation of economic activity: new business models; new sources of finance; and the consequent need for new forms of organisation and management. In this vein we have, for the last five years, run the MA in Social Entrepreneurship with a highly inclusive remit. Indeed, the Social Enterprise field is so varied that it is small wonder that some commentators feel impelled to talk about it as a zoo.
For us here in ICCE, that zoo very definitely includes cooperatives and we look forward to hearing how platform cooperatives offer a genuine sharing economy alternative to the likes of Uber, AirBnB, other recent forms of platform capitalism and the ‘super-firms’ dominating the global economic landscape and exacerbating global inequality.
Richard Hull, Programme Director, MA Social Entrepreneurship