Community asset transfer and strategies of local accumulation

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Abstract

Community asset transfer enables local groups to own or manage a government owned facility and related services. For critics, it is merely an extension of roll-back neoliberalism, permitting the state to withdraw from welfare and transfer risk from local government to ill-defined communities. The paper uses quantitative and case study data from Northern Ireland to demonstrate its transformative potential by challenging the notion of private property rights, enabling communities to accumulate and creating local consumption circuits. It suggests that asset-led social enterprises are entangled in a mix of pro-market and alternative economic strategies which are necessarily traded off each other in the reproduction of social value. There is not an ethically pure form of asset transfer but the tactical adaptation of different modes of working, including the enhancement of state services as well as more independent forms of economic and social organisation. However, the analysis points to the political weaknesses of three specific projects and in particular, the lack of corporate working that has limited their reformist potential. The paper concludes by highlighting the implications for more progressive forms of social economics and the skills, finance and practices that facilitate local accumulation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Early online date06 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 06 Jul 2017

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