What is Social Tech?

For a “digital permaculture” – generative ecosystems based on the Social and Digital Economy: consolidating and deploying “Social Tech” in the European Union.

People coworking
Relation between state, economy and civil society under a P2P model

At the crossroads of the librist models and the democratic models of the Social Economy

The Social Tech, according to Wikipedia quoting the French journalist Chrystèle Bazin, is the use of technology for social, societal and citizen action, such as: acting on inequalities, weaving new solidarities, or producing social innovation. By mobilising technological capacities, social tech promises everyone the ability to act in the service of the general interest.

Social Tech is therefore made up of technological models that rely on the stakeholders and infrastructures of the social and solidarity economy to propose systems with a high social and environmental impact. The pooling of infrastructures allows for a reduction in operating costs, the value generated is redistributed in an equitable manner to the stakeholders and the infrastructure is governed in a democratic manner. Models have multiplied in Europe and around the world and are ready to be scaled up.

Relation between state, economy and civil society under a P2P model

Social economy must move into the digital age

Such a transition is required in preserving our intangible social heritage, which is at the heart of the European model and cohesion, but also of accelerating the social and ecological transition.

Rather than Schumpeterian creative destruction, let us consider the digital “upcycling” of the social economy as a species essential to the survival of the European social and solidarity ecosystem. Like all economic actors, social economy organisations must lead a profound change in their organisation, integrate a culture of innovation at all levels, and upgrade their teams.

It is time for social economy to embrace Tech not as an end in itself, but as a means to improve, sustain and strengthen its models, jobs, influence and impact on the final beneficiaries.

“Social economy organisations must lead a profound change in their organisation, integrate a culture of innovation at all levels, and upgrade their teams”

Public-commons cooperation protocols (Bauwels and Onzia, 2017)

In the long term, to be able to generate all the value resulting from the crossroads between the social economy and the digital economy, and to encourage its start-up, it is necessary to reconsider the production of value not only economically but also socially and environmentally (measured in terms of collective savings) in order to be able to put in place a system of remuneration for citizen value. This is a necessary condition for ‘transinvestment’ (D. Kleiner and B. Gottlied, 2016).

This means overhauling national accounting systems to include this value. Civil society would become productive through the participation of citizens in the collaborative creation of collective value. Before we can generalise this new accounting and these “commons”, we need to be able to prototype them at European level, by creating centres of competitiveness around Services of General Interest (SGI) and the Commons (water management, sustainable food, energy, digital, postal and telecom networks, etc.).

A Manifesto for a truly collaborative economy

To this end, we support the proposals of European thinkers Michel Bauwens and Vassilis Kostakis in their Manifesto for a truly collaborative economy (2018).

As they recommend, in order to base from a ‘micro’ to a ‘macro’ existence, the prototyping of these types of solutions requires an ‘institutionalisation’ (both in terms of relaxing or opening up regulatory frameworks to allow experimentation and in terms of financial guarantee) of three categories of systems, whose co-dependence and identification constitute the conditions for scaling up.

    Productive community

    Entrepreneurial coalition

    Legal infrastructure

    Defend the Social Tech and its vision at a European level

    Since its creation, the Social Good Accelerator is engaged in a permanent dialogue with the public powers to maintain our vision and to defend Social Tech. In that regard, the European Commission often proposes relevant open consultations in these matters. To answer them, our community writes what we call a policy paper. In a transparent approach, anyone can access our submissions and our policy papers.