Ecovillages as Laboratories of Sustainability and Social Change (EcoLabSS)
In an historical moment where citizens of the world are called to take action to face ́multiple crises ́- the emergency of climatic change, high and rising socio-economic inequalities, and the upsurge of intolerance and racism within and between countries - the study of transformative grassroots initiatives becomes crucially important and timely. ‘Ecovillages as Laboratories of Sustainability and Social Change ́ (EcoLabSS) is conceived as an international, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary project aiming at producing a theoretically grounded and methodologically innovative study of one of these grassroots initiatives: the ecovillage movement. EcoLabSS provides a multi-level and mixed-method study of the ecovillage movement that combines the comparative study of two local ecovillages, respectively in Denmark and Italy, with a systematic analysis of the actions and networks of the transnational organization Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). The review and the fieldwork is then used to develop a comprehensive theoretical and analytical framework centred on the path-breaking definition of ́community-based prefigurative social movements ́. The empirical analysis is structured along three mutually informing levels of analysis: micro-individual level, meso-community level, and macro-societal level. The first level is focused on the study of individual life trajectories and biographies of ecovillage inhabitants. The meso-community level is analyzing the everyday practices and processes involving organization, decision-making and creation of future-oriented norms and codes of conduct inside the two case studies. Finally, the macro-societal level is centred on the study of how the ecovillage movement - represented by the transnational organization GEN - translates and diffuses its practices, narratives and visions of a just and sustainable society to policy-makers, institutions, other civil society actors and the wider public.