Joana Conill, Manuel Castells and Àlex Ruiz produced a new and interesting documentary that collects stories, cases and reflections on a different way of running economy and life. it’s about services, it is about new currencies, it is about local and sustainable production and consumption, lifestyles, social innovation,and many other things
For a moment I try to sift the perspective from the macro level of economies and large political and social systems to the individuals that represent the molecules of such systems. Every moment in people life is based on individual choices, which in turn are based o the context in which such choices are developed.
Apart from some emerging phenomena, such as Second Life or other social forms we can now observe in Web 2, the real dimension of the consumption process is still local, whereas production process are globalising: products are produced in different parts of the word, but the process of consuming, or experiencing a product is related to the place and time in which it is located. Of course the context in which individual choices is also connected to other contexts: for instance getting info on holiday resorts and the availability of adequate (time and moneywise) forms of transportation, puts me in the conditions of deciding to spend the holidays in contexts I have never seen before (and of course this also implies an environmental cost), however the process of consumption (the experience of holidays in an exotic place) is locally and temporary placed (the holiday resort, the holiday period) while the experience of dreaming before the holiday itself, and organising the trip appropriately is located in my everyday context of life.
The context in which each action of our life is placed represents the dimension in which our action and our choices are framed. Globalised production doesn’t just produce products and services, but also a cultural model in which such products/services will be used. In every moment of their life individuals are proposed such models and face the dilemma whether to abide by those models or shape their own individual choices using the resources and products they have, including global and local products/services and their individual capabilities. Each individual develops his/her own life strategies, deciding whether to adapt to the context conditions or to add new properties to it, in order to make it more suitable to reach his/her own aspirations and individual needs. Such an autonomous choice is a design act, whose degree of freedom depends on how much individuals are able to shape their own life independently from the global models.
For this reason individuals are always dealing with a tension between adaptation to global parameter and criteria and active Production processes at the local/individual level. Such processes are producing individual solutions.
Every time individuals abide by the model proposed by global consumption processes they give up their own chance to produce individual solutions, to invent their life. This is perfectly justifiable, as adaptation to the context conditions are as a way to reduce the effort and the stress of inventing new things and may save energy and resource to prioritise aspect of the everyday life that are more relevant. However the prevalence of adaptation behaviour or the persistence of such behaviour in long term may reduce individual creativity to the point it may become a scarce resource. At the social level the loss of individual creativity means a loss of diversity (diversity by itself is a biological/social/human resource) and a reduced potential to face the complexity of the problems generated by the modern socio-technical system.
The tension between adaptation to global models of consumption and creation of individual solutions and individual ways of living highlights the profile of individuals as actors rather than consumers; i.e. as active participants/designers rather than passive receivers of products/services and experiences. This perspective also changes the perception of the idea of people as the sum of actors that create a society or a social context, rather than a market. The active role of such context depends on its capability to generate autonomous proposals/projects about their way of living. In other words, it depends on the creativity of a social group or a social context.
Creativitry should not be seen as a monolithic resource in the hands of a group of professionals specialist, but rather as a diffuse resource that produces multiple and flexible solutions and also multiple perspectives: different ways of looking at and interpreting reality, which is particularly relevant when reality is very complex. Diffuse creativity implies a social learning process and is the engine for new forms of production.
Those reflection are partly inspired to the book “Sustainable Everyday” by Ezio Manzini and Francois Jegou