As of a few weeks ago, I have the honor of serving in an advisory group to the Council of Europe. It’s called “Quality job creation through network support” (as in social, not data network), and it reports to the Social Cohesion Research and Development Division. It’s a really interesting group: some of the members represent national governments (for example the German, the Austrian and the Norwegen one) or local authorities (like the Northumberland County Council in the UK or the Getafe municipality in Spain); others are grassroot alternative networks out to change the world. There is the Transition Network, born in the UK and gone global, teaching itself energy and food independence of local communities; the Italian Solidarete, out to internationalize social enterprises; the engineers of Aeroe Energy and Environment Office, who managed to generate locally 40% of the energy needs of a small Danish island. I will work mainly with Jean-Louis Laville, a leading expert on the social economy.
We will work mainly on social innovation, and on the policies that might help it to take off. I sense that this is a key theme: new subjects are emerging that can compete on the market, but aim their economic activity at collective goals, if not systemic change. This could have important consequences in an economy that, thanks to Internet-enabled mass collaboration, is getting better and better at producing public goods. Jean-Louis and I have been tasked with trying to figure out how to integrate this theme into mainstream policies: this begs the question of how governments integrate new themes, or, really, how they learn new things. I wish I had that answer! For now, I have a brainful of questions and maybe a proposal on where to start looking for some fragments of truth. The slides for my presentation of October 4th are above.