Social Economy as Antidote to Criminal Economy: How Social Cooperation is Reclaiming Commons in the Context of Campania’s Environmental Conflicts


This article contributes to ongoing debates on how bottom-up social cooperation can halt and reverse processes of environmental and human degradation, dispossession and impoverishment, by proposing a synchronization of resistance and of commoning practices. The article moves from the empirical case of social and ecological conflicts currently unfolding in the so-called Land of Fires, an area in Southern Italy infamous for the socio-environmental impacts of two decades of waste disposal, mismanagement and contamination. Within this context, a coalition of grassroots movements is struggling to resist livelihoods degradation through an alliance with anti-Mafia social cooperatives. We provide an in-depth analysis of emerging social and economic networks that connect the strategies of grassroots movements for environmental justice with the work of social cooperatives that reclaim lands and assets confiscated to Mafia. The interests of environmental activists meet the interests of social cooperatives at the crossroad of territory reclamation with the spheres of social and economic production and reproduction. Framing the case as a cultural and physical re-appropriation of territory, we provide an analysis of strategies and limits for a symbolic and practical project of social re-appropriation of the commons (De Angelis 2012).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v8i2p530

Keywords: Commons; Organized Crime; Social Cooperatives; Social Movements; Socio-environmental Conflicts


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