Anne-Pauline De Cler

My research focuses on the scaling of so-called alternative platforms, and these are those that are based on digital commons or that are basically platform co-ops, and that in the sector of food, and in particular local food hubs and direct-to-consumer sales of local products. And so my research aims to contribute to the debate on scaling, which I understand as figuring out the means or economic models for an organization that embodies cooperative principles to reach a viable and, most importantly, desirable site. And scaling is a controversial issue, mostly because it’s often associated to traditional economic growth, so one that is solely focused on the accumulation of profit or of exchange value, and also sometimes it can be considered that co-ops that try to scale end up actually just mimicking their capitalist counterparts. So based on work by some fellow researchers and professionals who redefined the concept of scaling in the cooperative context, and who distinguish between different types of scaling such as scaling up, deep, and out, my take on this issue is that scaling is actually a necessary strategy for co-ops to thrive and be resilient in an environment that’s most of the time hostile to them. So in that sense, scaling can take a variety of forms, and I consider three. The first one is basically gaining support from the state at different levels, so as to develop more favorable laws in terms of fiscality, labor, and competition that will be more favorable to co-ops. Secondly, I consider as a strategy for scaling the federation of co-ops beyond the local scale and across different sectors. And thirdly, I consider scaling ensuring that communities that are dominated in the current system have access to and reclaim these cooperative forms of economic organization.