What is Economic Democracy?
Economic Democracy can be understood as a spectrum of economic activity, both formal and informal, that privileges democratic participation, ownership and community empowerment and above all incorporates a common socioeconomic ethical philosophy that applies to the social relations inherent in the economy (Da Ros, 2007). The various types of models that fit within the spectrum of economic democracy run the gamut from non-profit organizations and foundations to worker cooperatives and self help mutual aid associations. What distinguishes them from other forms is their interest in multiple bottom lines (Perez de Mendiguren Castresana, Etxezarreta Etxarri, & Aldonondo, 2009). In other words, such organizations are not interested in profits only (some not at all), but instead act to change the social ramifications of economic processes. Their goal is not just monetary value but also humanistic values that lie in democratic participation as well as the social well being of the members of the organizations and the communities they come from (Da Ros, 2007). They all seek to impart or change the impacts of the economy, specifically where the state itself cannot or will not intervene, or where it should but does not.
Economic Democracy is an attempt at the opening up of the economy, especially with regards to private property, to ideals of democratic governance and ownership as well as increasing participation by the people that make the economy function. It is composed of a multiplicity of different types of projects, including but not limited to the three forms of cooperatives, worker, consumer, and producer, along with direct public control of public budgets, open book (transparent) and democratic management, city development projects geared around social justice goals, investment in public housing, and democratically-run schools among other initiatives (Carnoy & Shearer, 1980)
Simply said, Economic Democracy is a re-imagining, of creating an Economy that focuses on and redirects power to people over profits. Its a concept that seeks to empower workers and communities to have a stake in the decisions that affect their daily lives, at work, at home and in their communities.