In the context of environmental degradation, it is essential to study alternative, more sustainable models of living and production. Ecological Intentional Communities (EICs) present themselves as good examples or “laboratories” of sustainable development, with a small ecological footprint. However, little is known about their heterogeneity and their long-term viability. The present study proposes an empirically-driven typology of EICs aimed to capture both their heterogeneity and material means of reproduction, qualitatively assessing their capacity of transformation towards a low-carbon society. Through ethnographic fieldwork in 27 EICs in Catalonia (Spain), the article shows that the legal status of land use, the organization of domestic space, and the economic activities undertaken are crucial elements for the viability of the communities. The research allows to go beyond the discourse of these communities and to rethink their role as potential agents of transformation towards a more environmentally sustainable society. The role of the cultural and socio-economic context and public administrations in supporting such grassroots innovation projects is also stressed in the discussion.
- Ecological intentional communities
- Grassroots organizations
- Long-term viability and social reproduction