Article by Murat Soysaraç, Sosyal Ekonomi, Turkey

Sosyal Ekonomi (“Social Economy” in Turkish) is a non-profit communication platform containing theory, practice, and policy information about all topics related to social and solidarity economy (SSE), as well as other alternative economy approaches, including but not limited to cooperatives and transformative models that seek sustainable and ethical economies.

The motivation behind our initiative is the lack of satisfactory resources in Turkish, both in printed media and online sources. While the global interest in alternative economy research and projects gradually increased, Sosyal Ekonomi was established by a group of academics who were curious about these practices that still need more research, to narrow this information gap.

To help create a platform where people can share their experiences and learn from each other, we conduct interviews with SSE organizations, give consultancy and invited talks, present at conferences and make regular blog posts, both original articles, and translations. My work usually involves writing original articles, as well as translating foreign ones into Turkish, reaching out for collaboration projects, and acting as Sosyal Ekonomi’s co-editor.

I’ve been part of this group since its conception and have been working with them for most of my college life. As a university student who lives away from the city I grew up in to commute to school, I was better able to experience the struggles the young adults in Turkey experience, a lot of them having something to do with not having access to an economic system that cares about them. The future does not offer much for us, we face more volatile labor markets and slower economic growth; however, our problems are not limited to the economy. On top of political and social unrest, economic depression makes us young people worry about our future, creating a sense of despair.

SSE builds a desire to work for another world rather than being trapped in this despair, which is what draws me to get to know the SSE field better. Confronting the overlapping and interlinked crises SSE shows a transition path towards a paradigm that relies on cooperation and gives priority to the welfare of human beings and the planet, instead of one that is built upon competition, profit, and endless growth. But what impresses me most about the SSE field is how it goes beyond blueprints and puts out real-life practices that make a difference. Unfortunately, SSE is not recognized and known enough in Turkey, as it’s the case in the world. For instance, there are a lot of deep-seated and successful SSE organizations in Turkey but I have observed that a lot of young people are not aware of their existence.

As a member of the Sosyal Ekonomi team, RIPESS has been on my radar since the beginning with its wider scope and strong connections. Recently, RIPESS’s youth programs came to my knowledge. Young people need to develop solidarity at local, regional, and also global levels among themselves through networking to face youth issues. I think RIPESS’s information and experience on networks can light the way for young people.

Our blog follows the developments in the SSE field both in Turkey and in the world, disseminating knowledge and creating awareness. I believe that we can be more effective when working with other people sharing similar goals with us. We seek to further expand our network of collaborations and communication with people and organizations interested in SSE.