Economies of Rummage Transformative and Empowering in pandemic times.

ERTE is the Spanish acronym for Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo [Record of Temporary Employment Regulation], known in English as Temporary Redundancy Plan.

ERTE is the Spanish acronym for Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo [Record of Temporary Employment Regulation], known in English as Temporary Redundancy Plan.

The initials of this acronym can be alternatively read as: Economías de Rebusque Transformadoras y Emancipadoras. In English, this would correspond to something like Transformative and Emancipatory Moonlighting Economies.

Over the last few years, during the COVID-19 crisis, ERTEs have been the measure put forward as a stopgap for the negative effects on companies and employment caused by the pandemic. However, we feel that this measure has raised questions about the sustainability and fairness of the future scenarios we can devise in the short term. For instance, ERTEs have left out many communities, support networks, self-employed professionals and other kinds and models of economies that operate outside the visible productive and paid framework, despite the fact that these are necessary to sustain lives.

The acronym ERTE has been one of the most used terms between 2020 and 2021. According to Wikipedia, what the 2021 Spanish Labour Law establishes as an ERTE is a procedure to be used by companies in an exceptional situation of technical or organisational difficulties, putting their continuity at risk. The company is authorised to fire workers, suspend employment contracts or reduce their working hours temporarily and, after a specific period, workers would get their jobs back.


In relation to this (recent) situation and with the purpose of addressing the thematic focus ‘New economies and sustainability’ of Te( n ) cuidado, this Catalizadora [Catalyst] takes as its starting point the following question: what would happen if we think and implement ERTEs in a different way? This acronym would then be read as Economías de Rebusque, Transformadoras y Emancipadoras [Transformative and Emancipatory Moonlighting Economies]: economies that can work as survival strategies.

Catalizadora session 2 with social anthropologist Bibiana Martínez, artist Marina Monsonís and the courier services cooperative Les Mercedes.

How the economy works should not be understood as dissociated from the society in which it is embedded (Karl Polanyi, 1944). Between the economy and society, between the economy and everything else, between the economy and life, it is important to take into account two relevant currents of political economy: moral economy and feminist economy.

Moral economy focuses on analysing the moral values and cultural norms that can be found in all economic practices. Feminist economy focuses on issues that are far from the elements usually taken into account in economic analysis, moving the discussion towards the issue of care. According to the economist Amaia Pérez-Orozco (2011:32), ‘putting sustainability of life at the centre means envisaging the socio-economic system as a set of different spheres of activity (some of them monetised and some others not) whose articulation must be assessed in relation to the ultimate impact on life processes’.

This theoretical basis has been used by Catalizadora 2 to explore and imagine the new idea of ERTE – understood here as Economías de Rebusque, Transformadoras y Emancipadoras [Transformative and Emancipatory Moonlighting Economies] – in relation to:


> the sovereignty and autonomy of the hybrid processes of social transformation rooted in the territories

> the relationship between both ends of the production-distribution-consumption chain

> the division between productive and non-productive bodies

> short circuits

> reciprocity

> the relationship between time and care

This Catalizadora has been developed in three phases:

1. INTERNAL PROCESS of conversation, exchange and round table between the participants of the Catalizadora.


  1. LINKAGE between the Catalizadoraand agents from the SHEPHERDING sector and agroecology in the area of COLLSEROLA, on the outskirts of Barcelona.


  1. SOCIALISATION of the collected information regarding the questions ‘what is currently done with the wool from the sheep of Collserola?’ and ‘what could be done with it?’, with the purpose of activating usage chains of a resource that at the moment is being discarded.

This Catalizadora 2 has a dream team consisting of: Bibiana Martínez, a social anthropologist specialised in political economy, as an agent of the academic field; Marina Monsonís, a cook working in art/agro-eco-logical communities, as an agent of artistic practice; Les Mercedes, an ethical, sustainable and inclusive courier services cooperative, representing social initiatives; and Larre, a collective and proactive feminist force, as the prime mover and coordinator of the project (for more info, visit the NETWORK section in this website).

Catalizadora 2 research is carried out with the support of the Institute of Culture of the Barcelona City Council (2021).

Based on the experiences and knowledge exchanged and connected in Catalizadora 2 ERTE, the open process of collective and collaborative theoretical and practical research continues to expand in the following CAPSULES/CHAPTERS: