International Development Planning Review

Co-producing the right to fail: resilient grassroot cooperativism in a Chilean informal settlement

International Development Planning Review (2021), 43, (1), 33–62.


The article depicts how the inhabitants of the macrocampamento (macro-slum) ‘Los Arenales’ aimed to bring their concrete urban utopia closer, by co-producing the first cooperative bakery in a Chilean informal settlement. Despite its many flaws, the process is proposed as a social innovation, since it managed to bring a new diverse economy into existence while also improving several aspects of the urban displaced. It is also novel in gathering historically disjointed actors, such as the campamento’s inhabitants, local NGOs, academia and the state, especially rare considering the Chilean neoliberal context. The experimental nature of the process and inexperience of the actors involved led to several failures. But it also co-produced unexpected outcomes, such as increased resilience, empowerment and broader/stronger networks for the campamentos’ inhabitants, highlighting the importance of the right to fail. The experience is presented through an engaged research approach, raising some critical assessments of each actor’s participation and valuable lessons for similar endeavours.

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Author details

Arias-Loyola, Martín

Vergara-Perucich, Francisco