Across the globe, social and solidarity economics is gaining in popularity, representing the belief that relationships based on solidarity and co-operation are fundamental components in developing sustainable and inclusive economic activities and policies, rather than individualistic, market-driven approaches serving private interests. However, so far there has been little focus on how social and solidarity approaches to education could help to lay the foundations for a viable alternative to market capitalism, and democracy that is defined in terms of individualized consumer choice.
This chapter explores relational forms of democratic engagement and considers both the potential and the challenges for co-operative schools in England in helping to redefine an education system that is fit for a social solidarity economy. Schools are centre stage in the development of a social solidarity economy. They are the key institutions that can foster a democratic culture and allow it to flourish in the future (Audsley et al., 2013). Indeed, Apple (2011: 27–8) advocates that schools have a pivotal role in the production of our identities, with ‘lasting effects on the dispositions and values that we do and do not act upon, on who we think we are and on who we think we can become’.