Generally it means one of the following scenarios - which may or may not be combined into elements of a given political economy (predominantly, this tends to be a Mixed economy):
1. Workers control and own the means of production. See Mondragon Corporation as one example.
2. The community controls the means of production. See Elinor Ostrom's 8 Principles for Managing A Commmons as one avenue of research.
3. The State owns and controls the means of production. See State-owned enterprises.
4. Consumer-members are both the primary stakeholders and primary beneficiaries of the means of production. See Canadian Credit Union Association as one example.
Therefore “social ownership of the means of production” exists nearly everywhere around the globe in one form or another. The main differentiation from “private ownership of the means of production” is simple: it’s democracy. In some way, democracy guides these enterprises in a bottom-up way - via the electorate in State enterprises or CPRMs, or consumer-workers in the case worker/member-ownership. Contrastingly, in privately owned and managed enterprises, a few owner-shareholders make decisions in a top-down manner, and democracy (and the interests of anyone but the owner-shareholders) is not in play. Interestingly, the performance of socially owned and managed enterprises exceeds that of private ownership in nearly every metric (worker productivity, efficiency, innovation, customer satisfaction, worker satisfaction, etc.) except the profitability that benefits those private owner-shareholders. One has to wonder, then, what the point of private, for-profit institutions really is, since they are only benefiting already wealthy owner-shareholders who do not, in turn, pay taxes, give to charity, or stimulate the economy in a proportionate manner (that is, dollar-for-dollar in comparison to worker-consumers). In other words, they just pocket the profit or start another money-making enterprise with the cheapest labor and resources they can find - usually in the developing world where exploitation, pollution and eventual resource exhaustion are overlooked. So what’s the point of having private ownership of the means of production at all, other than concentrating wealth in the hands of a few…?
My 2 cents.
(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/What-exactly-does-social-ownership-of-the-means-of-production-mean/answer/T-Collins-Logan)
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