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Accepted Paper:

Ordinary lives and everyday actions: The everyday politics of food co-ops  
Celia Plender (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on feminist and anarchist perceptions of the political, which are attentive to the practices of care and collective responsibility often fostered within community projects, this paper explores the everyday politics of two London-based, grassroots, retail food co-ops.

Paper long abstract:

"It's about the everyday and just supporting people to live ordinary lives, which should be everybody's right." Jenny, the coordinator of St Hilda's East Food Co-op told me as we discussed the politics of the East London project. While she recognised that this was political, she also saw it as very local, questioning the role of acts such as helping people with their grocery shopping in a wider "transformation of power". While the bold politics of mass social movements and direct action are often easily legible as political, the comparatively mundane forms of commoning that take place within community projects focussed on meeting everyday needs can be seen in more ambivalent terms, as Jenny's words attest. Due to their everydayness, many forms of community organising are under-recognised as urban activism, even among their participants - who often include larger numbers of women and minoritized communities (Jupp 2012). Nonetheless, in the face of deepening inequalities and entrenched political and economic power, they can be very meaningful for those involved, creating a greater sense of place-based collectivity and mutual support while prefiguratively working to value people more equally. Drawing on feminist and anarchist perceptions of the political, which are attentive to the practices of care (Tronto 1993) and collective responsibility (Kropotkin 1902) often fostered within community projects, this paper seeks to explore the everyday forms of political action taking place within two London-based, grassroots, retail food co-ops - St Hilda's East and Fareshares.

Panel P019b
The everyday politics of the commons and social movements II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -