Building Platform Cooperatives in Brazil
This report explores the development, shape, and challenges of the platform cooperative movement in Brazil. It finds that the movement has two distinct components – one highly institutional, structured, and well-resourced, the other occurring on the margins of society and power – which respond to very different social environments but could benefit from greater collaboration.
The development of platform cooperativism in Brazil began with ideologically-driven and speculative agenda-setting by digital culture social movements followed by progressive political foundations. In response, small autonomous projects in academia published their own research, giving birth to a discussion about platform cooperativism. Brazil’s institutionalized system of cooperativism then began to study platform cooperativism and internalize its principles, a process that began with its own facilitators and educational organizations conducting study missions and engaging with ‘tech culture’ through hackathons. Most recently, the COVID pandemic triggered a social crisis over the precarity of platform-based gig work, driving such workers to organize themselves into platform cooperatives, though they faced difficulties in the absence of institutional support.
The report observes that the institutional component of Brazil’s platform cooperativism remains focused on nurturing projects which work within official cooperative legal frameworks and already or will exist within long-cooperativised economic sectors, leaving its potential restricted by tight legal restrictions on funding and participation as well as an inward focus. Meanwhile, the non-institutional component struggles to develop for lack of funding, expertise, and other resources. As such, the report recommends that the institutional component engage and support the non-institutional component more in order to drive the overall movement forward.