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Coopératives de travailleurs autonomes : du jeu dans les règles au jeu sur les règles, éléments de comparaison Belgique, France et Italie

Coopératives de travailleurs autonomes : du jeu dans les règles au jeu sur les règles, éléments de comparaison Belgique, France et Italie

Marie-Christine Bureau, Antonella Corsani et Bernard Gazier

Volume : 76-1 (2021)

Abstract

This article is an investigation into the situation and activity of an emerging group of self-employed skilled workers (called “I-Pros”) in Belgium, France and Italy. The focus is initially broad: the analysis begins with a brief comparison of the national contexts of self-employment and the existing challenges for these workers in the three countries. Next, the focus is narrowed, and the authors identify and discuss the various forms of logic that underlie the action of several organizations that protect and represent “I-Pros.” Finally, the analysis deepens with a study of the trajectories and strategies of three worker cooperatives: one from each of the countries under study.

The article builds on previous European research: the I-WIRE project, which was centred on the needs and social protection of the self-employed in Europe. Here, its results are used and enriched on the theoretical level (through the concept of “instituting work”) and on the empirical level (by gathering additional material and making additional interviews). The method involves combining analysis of institutions and organizations with individual or group interviews of relevant individuals.

The research remains exploratory because its object of study is complex and changing. However, one main result can be identified: the “I-pros” often play simultaneously within the rules and with the rules. In particular, the workers at the three cooperatives under study are engaged in an intense effort to “institute” their work not only by changing the legal rules but also by imagining new ways of being and doing. The three organizations have strongly convergent but nonetheless distinct trajectories. It is thus possible to distinguish between primarily economic frames of reference, which emphasize career plans and entrepreneurship, and primarily political ones, which stress the idea of citizen cooperation.