Drawing on Polanyi, Austin and Lacan, Marie Pellegrin-Rescia and Yair Levi offer a powerful critique of the language and categories of thought that dominate the contemporary intellectual and political landscape. The general tendency to dichotomize concepts such as left and right, social and economic, globalization and anti-globalization, is, they argue, a consequence of our subservience to the primacy of the rational economic agent. The authors offer a selection of case-studies of co-operatives, which are shown to be paradoxical entities in a worldview in which the social exists only as a metaphor for a space concerned with the damage caused by the economic. Through an analysis of experiences in achieving civil accord in South Africa and in establishing a new town in the mountains of Sicily, they offer a new political orientation in a world of uncertainty. In doing so they attempt an answer to one of the most intriguing questions of our time: should we accept as a fait-accompli the way our society is conceived and shaped, or can we have a say in the matter and assume the ethical responsibility involved?

part I|83 pages

The ‘Social’ as Metaphor

part |6 pages

Introduction to Part I

section B|41 pages

A Historical Overview

chapter 6|10 pages

Anthropological Debt versus Imaginary Work Places

From the Bond through the Community to The Bond through Work

chapter 8|3 pages

Conclusion to Part I

part II|92 pages

Cooperatives As Examples and Their Paradoxes

part |5 pages

Introduction to Part II

chapter 9|5 pages

Images, Myths and Stereotypes

section Aa|13 pages

The Official Discourse

chapter 10|12 pages

Origins and Constituent Elements

section Bb|67 pages

Critique of the Official Discourse

chapter 11|7 pages

Tensions and Inconsistencies

chapter 12|11 pages

Interpreting the Socio-Economic Duality

chapter 13|5 pages

Paradoxes of Cooperatives

chapter 14|33 pages

The Case Studies

chapter 15|3 pages

What Have We Learned from Cooperatives?

chapter 16|7 pages

Summary and Conclusions

part |27 pages

Epilogue: Beyond the ‘Social’ as Metaphor