Solidarity Purchasing Groups as social innovators: an analysis of alternative food networks in Italy


  • Davide Arcidiacono Department of Sociology (UNICATT), Università degli Studi di Catania
  • Lara Maestripieri Institut de Govern i Politiques Publiques, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Palabras clave:

consumismo político, cooperativas de consumo solidario, poder adquisitivo, innovación social, marginalización


La mercantilización del sector de la comida y la creciente importancia de los minoristas de masas han creado una cadena de suministro desequilibrada donde, sobre todo, los pequeños productores y los consumidores son más débiles. En contra de este escenario, en los últimos veinte años la agricultura y los mercados de proximidad se han ido situando como espacios relevantes de experimentación de prácticas sociales innovadoras con el objetivo de solucionar esta anomalía y de reequilibrar la distribución del valor en el conjunto de cadena de suministro. Las cooperativas de consumo solidario forman parte de estas experiencias innovadoras y pueden representar una de las medidas más relevantes para contrastar el poder de negociación de los minoristas de masa. No obstante, el análisis en este artículo muestra como las cooperativas de consumo solidario son innovaciones sociales que sólo consiguen parcialmente el objetivo de reducir la marginalización económica de sus proveedores al crear una cadena de suministro alternativa.

Biografía del autor/a

Davide Arcidiacono, Department of Sociology (UNICATT), Università degli Studi di Catania

Davide Arcidiacono holds a PhD in Sociology and Methods for Social Sciences, and is Researcher in Economic Sociology at the University of Catania. He is a member of the international research group the Foundational Economy Collective. He is also a member of several editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals such as the Review of European Studies, Consumatori, Diritti e Mercato, POLIS and Frontiers in Sociology. His research work focuses on the issues of digital transformation, consumerism, economic regulation and work transitions.

Lara Maestripieri, Institut de Govern i Politiques Publiques, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Lara Maestripieri holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Research. She is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her main research interests are labour transformation in the post-industrial society, in particular: marginalised groups in labour markets (women and young people), social innovation and emerging professions. Published articles from the social innovation research stream appear in the International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, Partecipazione e Conflitto and the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship. 


AGCM (2012). Indagine conoscitiva sul settore del- la GDO. IC43. Roma.
BEPA (2010). Empowering people, driving change: Social innovation in the European Union. Brux- elles. Retrieved from pdf/publications_pdf/social_innovation.pdf.
Bio Bank (2016). Rapporto Bio Bank. Il biologico in Italia secondo i censimenti Bio Bank, dall’ali- mentazione alla cosmesi. Retrieved from www.
Blumer, H. (1954). What is wrong with social theo- ry? American Sociological Review, 19(1), 3-10. Bowman, A., Froud, J., Sukhdev, J., Law, J., Leav- er, A., Moran, M., Williams, K. (2014). The end
of the experiment? From competition to the foundational economy. Manchester: Manches- ter University Press.
Bruni, L., Zamagni, S. (2007). Civil Economy. Efficiency, Equity and Public Happiness. Oxford: Peter Lang.
Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods. Fourth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
De Bruin, A. (2012). Towards Advancing Under- standing of Social Innovation. In F. H. Werner,
J. Hochgerner, J. Howaldt (eds.), Challenge Social Innovation. Potentials for Business, Social Entrepreneurship, Welfare and Civil Society (pp. 367-378). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
De Certau, M. (1988). The practice of everyday life.
Los Angeles: California University Press.
Dobson, P. W. (2005). Exploiting Buyer Power: Les- sons from the British Grocery Trade. Antitrust Law Journal, 72, 529-562.
Dobson, P. W., & Inderst, R. (2007). Differential Buyer Power and the Waterbed Effect: Do strong Buyers Benefit or Harm Consumers? European Competition Law Review, 28(7), 393-400.
Eggers, W. D., & McMillan, P. (2013). The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems. Boston: Harvard Business Review.
European Central Bank (2011). Structural features of distributive trades and their impact on pric- es in the euro area (Occasional Paper Series No. 18). Bruxelles.
European Parliament (2015). Unfair Trading Practices in the Business-to-Business Food Supply Chain. Bruxelles.
Federidistribuzione (2017). La mappa del sistema distributivo in Italia. Retrieved from www.fe-
Forno, F., Graziano, P. R. (2014). Sustainable com- munity movement organisations. Journal of Consumer Culture, 14(2), 139-157.
Forno, F., Graziano, P. R. (2016). Il consumo critico. Una relazione solidale tra chi acquista e chi produce. Bologna: Il Mulino.
Foros, O., Kind, H. J. (2008). Do Slotting Allowances harm retail competition? Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 110(2), 367-384.
Grasseni, C. (2014). Beyond alternative food net- works. Italy’s solidarity purchasing groups. London: Bloomsbury.
Guidi, R., Andretta, M. (2015). Between resistance and resilience: How do Italian soli- darity purchase groups change in times of crisis and austerity? Partecipazione e Con- flitto, 8(2), 443-477. i20356609v8i2p443.
Hirschman, A. O. (1970). Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISMEA (2018). Rapporto sulla competitività dell’a- groalimentare italiano. Retrieved from
Ketchen, D. J., Shook, C. L. (1996). The application of Cluster Analysis in Strategic Management Research: an Analisys and Critique. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 441-458.
Loconto, A. M. (2014) Institutionalising social inno- vation: an exploration of boundaries, EASST An- nual Conference: Situating Solidarities: social challenges for science and technology studies; Toru (Polonie) / Conference Proceedings.
Lyson, T. A. (2005). Civic Agriculture and Commu- nity Problem Solving. Culture & Agriculture, 27, 92-98.
Maestripieri, L. (2017). Are Solidarity Purchasing Groups a social innovation? A study inspired by social forces. Partecipazione e Conflitto, 10, 955-982.
Micheletti, M. (2003). Political Virtue and Shop- ping. Individuals, Consumerism and Collective Action. London: Palgrave.
Moulaert, F., MacCallaum, D., Hillier, J., Vicari, S. (2009). Social Innovation and Territorial Devel- opment. Burlington: Ashgate.
Moulaert, F., MacCallaum, D., Mehmood, A., Ham- douch, A. (2013). General introduction: the re- turn of social innovation as a scientific concept and a social practice. In F. Moulaert, D. Mac- Callaum, A. Mehmood, A. Hamdouch (eds.), The International Handbook on Social Innovation. Collective Action, Social Learning and Trans- disciplinary Research. Cheltenham/Northamp- ton: Edward Elgar.
Mulgan, G., Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J. (2010). The Open Book of Social Innovation. London: The Young Foundation.
Murdoch, J., Marsden, T., Banks, J. (2000). Quality, nature and embeddedness: some theoretical considerations in the context of the food sector. Economic Geography, 76, 107-125.
Nesta (2008). Social Innovation: New approaches to transforming public services (SI/ No. 18). London.
Nicholls, A., Ziegler, R. (2019). The Extended Social Grid Model. In A. Nicholls, R. Ziegler (eds.), Cre- ating (fair) economic space for social innova- tion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Paltrinieri, R., Spillare, S. (2015). Well-being Shift through Healthy Eating. From Organic Con- sumption to a Paradigm of Alternative Local Development. Rivista Di Studi Sulla Sostenibi- lità, 2, 99-110.
Punji, G., Stewart, D. W. (1983). Cluster Analysis in Marketing Research: Review and Suggestions for Application. Journal of Marketing Research, XX (May 1983), 134-148.
Rebughini, P. (2008). Costruire nuovi spazi di con- sumo: i gruppi di acquisto e il sogno della tra- sparenza. In R. Sassatellu, L. Leonini (eds.), Il consumo critico. Significati, pratiche, reti. Bari: Laterza.
Rhodes, S. A. (1995). Market Share Inequality, the HHI, and Other Measures of the Firm-Composition of a Market. Review of Industrial Organization, 10(6), 657-674.
Seyfang, J. (2009). The new economics of sustain- able consumption. Seeds of change. New York: Palgrave.
Stiglitz, J. E. (2011). Rethinking Macroeconomics: What failed and how to repair it. Journal of the European Economic Association, 9(4), 591-645.
The Foundational Economy Collective (2018). Foundational Economy. The infrastructure of every- day life. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Velázquez, B., Buffaria, B. (2017). About farmers’ bargaining power within the new CAP. Agricultural and Food Economics, 16(5), 2-13.
Von Jacobi, N., Chiappero-Martinetti, E., Maestripieri, L., Giroletti, T. (2018). From asking one- self questions to taking actions - collectively: How social innovation empowers people. Un- published paper.
Von Jacobi, N., Edmiston, D., Ziegler, R. (2017). Tackling marginalisation through social innovation? Examining the EU social innovation policy agenda from a capabilities perspective. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 18(2), 148-162.
Wilkinson, J. (2015). Food security and the global agrifood system: Ethical issues in historical and sociological perspective. Global Food Security, 7(3), 9-14.
Zapf, W. (1991). The role of innovations in modernization theory. International Review of Sociology, 2(3), 83-94.
Ziegler, R. (2017). Social Innovation as a Collaborative Concept. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 30(4), 388-405.




Cómo citar

Arcidiacono, D., & Maestripieri, L. (2019). Solidarity Purchasing Groups as social innovators: an analysis of alternative food networks in Italy. Revista Española De Sociología, 28(3 - Sup1).