Introduction: Childcare commons as a vector of political change
Writing to the mothers’ Whatsapp group is better than calling 112.
(Urban saying amongst mothers in Poble Sec)
In these notes, we share the questions and challenges around care and health that emerged in the research project Entrar Afuera (Entering Outside, 2016-2018), a multi-site and multi-format dialogue around critical practices of healing and caring in three sites in southern Europe, Trieste (Italy), Madrid (Spain) and Thessaloniki (Greece). As we will see, we focus this text in Trieste and the dialogue with Madrid.
The notion of the commons has long been understood as referring to spaces for open participation of regular people, and is thus both a concept and practice with an affinity to anarchism. De Angelis and Harvie (2014: 280) define the commons as ‘social systems in which resources are shared by a community of users/producers, who also define the modes of use and production, distribution and circulation of these resources through democratic and horizontal forms of governance’.
All this – all the meanness and agony without end
I sitting look out upon
See, hear and am silent.
- Walt Whitman, ‘I Sit and Look’
To do critical theory used to be fairly straightforward. The existing order of things – Global Capitalism, Consumer Society, Late Capitalism or State Monopoly Capitalism – could be criticized for its shortcomings in relation to an actually existing alternative. This alternative did not have to be fully realized to exist. It was enough that the ideas that it embodied (socialism, free love, authentic human relationships) moved the imaginations of a multitude of people for the alternative to be real (at least in the Hegelian sense of that term).
When sociologist Adam Arvidsson writes about marketing and consumption we should pay attention. His 2005 essay ‘Brands: A critical perspective’ and his 2006 book Brands: Meaning and value in media culture have become seminal pieces in the field I call the critical cultural studies of marketing, which includes scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines such as critical management studies, sociology, history, marketing, media and cultural studies (see e.g. Zwick and Cayla, 2011).
There are two distinct forms of Open Education: Open Education itself, and Open Educational Resources; these two terms are often used interchangeably, yet retain subtle differences.