LEXIS - Intercultural Lexical Tools for Social and Solidarity Economy

Social and solidarity economy (SSE) networks are currently seeking to become more visible as alternative to mainstream economics. This will enable them to respond jointly to the global economic, social and financial crises, and demonstrate that genuine alternatives exist. These networks are engaged in building of databases and mapping of their organizations and enterprises, a dynamic which was initiated at national level, and is continued through a movement of exchange and dialogue at international level, contributing to the visibility of a responsible, plural and solidarity economy (RPSE).

An intercultural process This general move toward organising information is immediately confronted by the issues of language diversity, as well as that of the diversity of concepts and vocabulary that are used. This reduces the visibility of the movement as an economic transformational force. This limitation is particularly obvious in Europe. English-speaking countries, as well as those of Northern and Eastern Europe, and vast areas of Africa and Asia, have not identified with the social and solidarity economy as expressed by RIPESS.

Even in countries where SSE is organized, the values and the concepts of the SSE networks (what we call the “frameworks”) are not exactly identical. Subtle variations in different countries and languages play an important part in those realities, perimeters, values and concepts. It is necessary to identify them, to bring them together in a shared vision.

Building a shared framework LEXIS aims to facilitate exchange and dialogue between existing national and international social and solidarity economy and related networks, through the construction of concrete products, which will provide the necessary complement to current mapping processes. By building an international glossary and thesaurus of SSE, it will contribute to the creation of a common framework. This will in turn help organize information in a more coherent way in the networks and contribute to the quality of international mapping processes for social and solidarity economy. It will reinforce the mutual understanding of actors working in a responsible, plural and solidarity economy (RPSE) at international level.

The planned activities are as follows:

- Establish a workgroup gathering representatives of the networks interested in building the tools suggested in this project (international glossary, nomenclature and thesaurus). This group will be proposed and organized at the next meeting of the European mapping group. Its core node will be composed mainly of European actors, but it will be open to actors of other continents.

- The identification of socio-economic actors and contact points/people in countries not already covered by the SEE networks interested in this exchange, and the opening of this working group to those networks.

The workgroup will approve a joint work agenda that will interface with planned SEE network meetings in order to optimise existing work in progress. The meetings will take place, according to the available resources, during the continental meetings of those networks.

- A Distance Communication process (DC) within the workgroup in order to launch the process, assimilate the objectives and methods and extend participation to actors in as many countries as possible. This DC will be carefully moderated by one or two people.

- One or several workshops at continental level will enable the networks to compare frameworks (values, vocabulary, typology) as well as examine practical issues linked to the translation of these frameworks across national and linguistic borders. The method will be the identification and mapping of similarities and differences. The workshops will also be the occasion to validate the conclusions of the Distance Communication Process, to summarize the key points discussed to be validated and formalise the results and products of the process.

The products of these activities will be :

  • A shared international glossary for the field of SSE and RSE, containing the most common terms in several languages, their definition, including the cultural differences. In the first stage, three languages are contemplated (French, English and Spanish), to which other cold be joined, depending on the development of partnerships and co-funding.
  • The mapping of the values and the concepts of a responsible and solidarity economy, complementing the glossary, in the different cultural and socio-economic context with the identification of the similarities and differences. The premises of this work are in the products of the “strategic agenda” of the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy.
  • An international thesaurus (key words for organising information) elaborated from the above glossary, of which it would be an operational extension, to index the documents related to SSE and SPRE.
  • The discussion and coherence between typologies (of organisations and fields of SEE) and nomenclatures used by the networks and SSE mapping projects.
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