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The term social economy was first coined by

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The term “social economy” was first coined by anthropologist KalervoOberg in the1930s to refer to the inextricable link between economicsand social organization in Tlingit society on the Northwest Coast. ForOberg, the concept of the social economy recognizes the ways in whichin indigenous economic systems, economy is embedded in social rela-tions. It emphasizes the fact that without taking the social relations andorganization as well as the indigenous worldviews into consideration,economic systems of indigenous societies cannot be fully understood.66More recently, “social economy” has become a term with multiple def-initions. In Canada, the term has been generally employed to refer to thethird sector of the economy—nongovernmental, voluntary sector initia-tives such as co-operatives, community-based organizations, communityeconomic development, and not-for-profit organizations providing so-cial, cultural, economic, health, and other services to communities.67Inthe context of northern indigenous communities, the mixed economyforms the centerpiece of the social economy. Frances Abele argues:The mixed economy plays a role in Indigenous communities simi-lar to that of “conventional” social economy institutions in otherparts of Canada. Indeed, it might be said that social economy in-stitutions such as neighbourhood associations, affiliation and
Kuokkanen: Economies, Subsistence, and Women233self-help groups, food banks, and the like, as well as aspects of thewelfare state, take the place of the mixed economy in parts of thesociety where integration of all workers into the wage economyis more or less complete. The mixed economy is a form of socialprovision that elsewhere is substituted by either the programsof the welfare state or by publicly funded activities in the socialeconomy.68The mixed economy is equivalent to the social economy in terms of itssignificance in creating social institutions and providing support sys-tems in northern indigenous communities where there are very few orno third-sector organizations or enterprises usually associated with thesocial economy.69Therefore, in many ways it is an indispensable dimen-sion of the community and individual welfare and security for manyindigenous societies.If we took the concept of the social economy as the starting point ofdeliberations in indigenous governance, we would foreground not onlyindigenous economic systems and their significance in their entiretybut also social institutions as the basis of forming contemporary po-litical organization and governance. Subsistence activities continue toform the core of the northern social economies. They inform the cen-tral cultural values, sustain customary social relationships, define iden-tities, and shape personal and cultural well-being. As David C. Natchermaintains, subsistence activities “provide a fundamental basis for thesocial identity, cultural survival and spiritual life of northern Aboriginalpeoples.”70If we were to reconfigure indigenous self-governance around theframework of the social economy, the initial steps would include the fol-lowing. First, it would take into account the continued significance ofindigenous economies when considering the economic base of indige-nous governance rather than focusing solely on economic developmentprojects. Second and equally important, it would involve employing the

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Sociology, Capitalism, Test, The American, Economic system, indigenous governance

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