The University of Arizona

Seeds of Trust. Italy's Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale (Solidarity Purchase Groups)

Cristina Grasseni


This article presents a case study of the solidarity economy in Italy: the Italian G.A.S. – Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, which I translate as Solidarity Purchase Groups. GAS are often conceptualized as "alternative food networks". Beyond this categorization, I highlight their novelty in relational, political, and ecological terms, with respect to their capacity to forge new partnerships between consumers and producers. Introducing an ethnographic study that I have developed in a recent monograph (Grasseni 2013), I dwell here in particular on how the solidarity economy is embedded in practice. I argue that gasistas' provisioning activism is something different to mere "ethical consumerism." Activists use the notion of "co-production" to describe their engagement as a concurrent rethinking of the social, economic, and ecological aspects of provisioning. Building also on a quantitative survey of the GAS movement in northern Italy, I pursue an ethnographic understanding of "co-production." I argue that producers and consumers in GAS networks "co-produce" both economic value and ecological knowledge, while re-embedding their provisioning practice in mutuality and relationality.

Keywords: Solidarity economy, solidarity purchase groups, Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, alternative food networks, provisioning, co-production, Gibson-Graham, Italy.

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