Interdisciplinary explorations of self-organisation in practice
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, London School of Economics, School of Political Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, SARDEX, International Network for Urban Research and Action
The main objective of this project is to build a network of researchers and practitioners who have diverse understandings of the role the Internet can play in the self-organization of socio-technical and economic systems in different online and offline contexts. We wish to facilitate a dialogue between distant perspectives, that stretch from complex systems and networking to political theory and urban planning, by narrowing down their object of observation and analysis to (the evolution of) self-organized communities in cities. To enable comparisons, abstractions, and the development of new ideas we will focus on two main questions: 1) What can we learn about building the future Internet from real-life experiences of self-organization? 2) How can the Internet, and in general Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs),facilitate self-organization consistently with local values and agreed upon objectives? We will differentiate between communities that are centred on the use of a complementary currency and those that build on social exchanges at the neighbourhood level, like cooperative housing and eco-villages, and discuss their internal rules and structure, their scale, the role of ICT, and the effect of the current economic crisis on their proliferation. As a first step toward this ambitious objective we will bring together two EINS partners with experience in ICT-related interdisciplinary work with a partner specialized in the (political) theory of self-organization with focus on the movements in Greece before and after the recent crisis, and two partners specialized in the practice of self-organization through the use of complementary currencies(SARDEX) and through various forms of solidarity (INURA). To focus our efforts under the limited project budget, we will organize three meetings–inviting a few external guests –combined with guided visits of local self-organized communities and an interdisciplinary symposium. The outputs of the project will be in the form of reports on these face-to-face interactions at our workshops, and journal and conference articles based on the collaborative theoretical and applied research of the partners. COMPARE will be a first step toward the creation of a highly diverse community of researchers and practitioners around the concept of urban self-organization catalysed by the Internet.