For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"A freelancers’ cooperative as a case of democratic institutional experimentation for better work: a case study of SMart-Belgium"

by Charles, Julien; Ferreras, Isabelle; Lamine, Auriane (2020)


This article discusses the experimentation led by SMart in Belgium, a worker cooperative founded to support freelance artists – and subsequently extended to other freelancers – with the aim of helping them reduce four forms of uncertainties that affect such workers. Over the past 20 years, SMart has sought to secure broader access to social protections for these workers, shifting its strategies to accommodate the changes in rules set by the Belgian federal state. Today, experimentation abounds for various types of intermediation with new forms of employment, but SMart is notable for its ambition to build a cooperative firm providing the protections of wage work to beneficiaries otherwise ignored by social policies. Based on qualitative research conducted from a Deweyan perspective, and 48 in-depth interviews with SMart worker-members, the authors examine the ways in which SMart can be considered an example of democratic institutional experimentation providing collective capabilities to its worker-members in pursuit of better work.


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Democracy and Work

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