Professor Bronwen Morgan - Where Activism Meets Enterprise: The Socio-Legal Dimensions of Social and Environmental Innovation in the New Economy - 26 April

This paper explores the socio-legal dimensions of the growth of grass-roots innovations in everyday enterprises focused on fulfilling basic material needs, ranging from food, transport and energy to reuse/recycle and co-working initiatives. These initiatives often seek to weave social and ecological values into the heart of exchange rather than bolting them onto the edifice of commercial exchange as an afterthought.

After a brief overview of the scope and theoretical basis of the research project from which this paper draws, I will sketch the socio-legal dimensions of this meeting between activism and enterprise through four lens: 1) patterns in individual biographies of leaders and founders; 2) organisational choices and forms; 3) public and collective regulation; and 4) the salience of place, including shared infrastructure, land and the city as a commons.

I will draw on the fieldwork on food initiatives to illustrate a more general argument about a) ways in which the legal field is an important site of reimagining the building blocks of property, contracts and capital (land, relationality and resources); and b) the importance of emerging forms of 'cause lawyering for the social economy'.