Living Together: Hansalim as a model for solidarity pathways towards sustainable food systems

This project explores through fieldwork a little-known Korean cooperative, Hansalim, which has grown to become one of the largest organic food cooperatives in the world.


The global food system is in crisis, and there is an urgent need to study alternatives to the modern industrial food system and to share practical and policy lessons for sustainability transformations. There is an accumulation of evidence across Europe that solidarity cooperatives (or multi-stakeholder cooperatives) which bring farmers and consumers together can function successfully to promote sustainable agri-food systems at a small scale. Yet there is little research on the extent to which they represent a pathway to wider transformation. Is the solidarity economy an impractical idealistic dream or can cooperatives really make a significant contribution to realising sustainable agri-food systems?

This project seeks to enlarge the global conversation about the role of the solidarity economy in food system transformations by supporting shared learning between East and West and academia and cooperative movements. Dr Jonathan Dolley will undertake an extensive period of participatory fieldwork to conduct an in-depth case study of a little-known Korean cooperative, Hansalim, which has grown to become one of the largest organic food cooperatives in the world.

Hansalim is a remarkable example of a solidarity cooperative developing sufficient scale, complexity and diversity that it can sustain a large-scale alternative agri-food system even within a highly urbanised industrialised capitalist economy. It embodies a possible model of a large-scale alternative to the modern industrial food system with wider implications for broader societal transformation.


Dr Dolley will adopt an immersive research approach, combining methods based around principles of the transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge, emphasising learning through participation, interaction and shared reflection.

Dr Dolley will:

  • conduct an empirical literature review of Korean language literature and carry out informal and semi-structured interviews with diverse actors inside and outside Hansalim
  • participate in the standard training for Hansalim’s consumer and farming cooperative members and become a member of a neighbourhood consumer cooperative to gain an insider’s view of Hansalim from multiple positions within the organisation
  • engage in shared analysis and reflection on the data and findings emerging from the project with Hansalim researchers and managers, and interested groups in Europe and beyond.

The combination of these methods will build a rich and sophisticated picture of Hansalim’s experience while also providing a solid basis for the collaborative analysis of potential transformation pathways to support solidarity-based food system transformations towards sustainability.

Impact and outreach

This project will provide non-Korean academics, policy-makers and solidarity practitioners with an in-depth account of Hansalim’s experience and philosophy and draw out insights into the potential role of the solidarity economy in future food system transformations towards sustainability. The research will also establish a bridge between Korean and Western solidarity movements and interested academics and policy actors to foster mutual learning and future collaborations.

Dr Dolley will present findings from the project in academic papers; a popular level book aimed at practitioners, policy-makers and the wider public; and online content in English and Korean.

Further information

Dr Dolley will be hosted by Hansalim’s Mosim and Salim Research Institute in the Republic of Korea. This Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship will last for three years, with funding from Horizon 2020.