The Role of Digital Platforms in Agroecology Food Consumption Collaboration. A Comparison between Porto and Barcelona
Collaboration around food consumption has had an important role in the transformation of societies over time. From historical cooperatives to current urban commons, citizen self-management has allowed to build food supply alternatives linked to the principles of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). In the era of the Network Society, these organizations are adopting Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in order to facilitate the management of food supply, internally and to interact with their providers (Espelt 2018). Departing from the framework for Assessing Democratic Qualities in Collaborative Economy Platforms (Fuster Morell and Espelt 2018), which focuses on governance, sustainability model, technological and knowledge policies, and social responsibility impact, we analyze how agroecological food consumption organizations are embracing digital platforms. We have focused our analysis on a set of organizations that have emerged in Greater Porto and Barcelona and the meeting-points of ICT adoption. Currently, Barcelona has around sixty agroecology food consumption cooperatives distributed along the city with around 1.500 consumption units associated. In Greater Porto, there is a low tradition of self-management initiatives and only a couple of consumer groups that can be considered agroecological and solidarity-oriented (Martins Soria 2016), though there are dozens of “short food supply chain” schemes, which have been formed in the last few years with the help of proprietary and centralized digital platforms. On the one hand, the results of this investigation reveal the significance of the role of digital platforms in agroecology food consumption organizations which are involved in and promoting social market. On the other, the conclusions highlight the possibilities of platform cooperativism as a way to facilitate agroecology food consumption collaboration and its scalability, in connection with democratic qualities in collaborative economy platforms.
Keywords: Food, agroecology, commons, cooperativism, platformcoop