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Abstract

This thesis empirically investigates two attempts to implement alternatives to capitalist ways of (re)production in a capitalist society. The first case study focuses on Milkerie, an ice-cream factory in Southern France. Milkerie’s workers created a worker cooperative to keep their jobs that the previous factory owner judged economically redundant. The second case study analyses counterintuitive immigration to Diois, a relatively isolated and poor area in Southeastern France. Urbanites moved to Diois with various "life projects" that attempted to value the spheres of human activity that the capitalist market economy ignores. Both alternatives emerged as responses to failings of capitalism and attempted to revalue human activity by creating grassroots "commons" or collective governance institutions that distribute economic value differently than the capitalist market economy. The cases differ in that Milkerie represents a critique from the point of view of labour and is situated in the middle of the "productive" economy, whereas Diois neorural settlement represents the critique of labour itself and is situated in the middle of the "reproductive" economy. The juxtaposition of both case studies reveals that in Western societies capitalist value-making mechanisms have permeated the whole society across "productive" and "reproductive," paid and unpaid spheres of economy, making it difficult, but urgent to revalue human activity. This thesis argues that a way to undo the subordination of human activity to capital (re)production processes passes either through reinventing work that cuts across life-work distinction or by de-commodifying labour at the level of the society.

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