Sociology Index

Social Economy

Books Socio-Economic Development, Economic Sociology

Social Economy includes organisations such as cooperatives, charities and non-governmental organisations. Social economy encompasses a wide range of community, voluntary and not-for-profit activities. Social economy lies between the private sector and business, the public sector and government.

Social economy has a valuable role to play in helping create a sustainable and inclusive society. It is difficult to define the limits of the social economy sector of the constant change in the political and economic discourse. Therefore, at any given time organisations may be moving within the various sub-sectors of the social economy.

The term social economy comes from the French économie sociale. Social economy is taken to comprise four families of organisations: co-operatives, mutuals, associations and foundations.

Social economy in France is a major sector representing 12% of employment and 12% of GDP.

Social economy in Spain is a major sector representing 18% of employment and 14% of GDP.

The European Economic and Social Committee has published a study by CIRIEC - International Centre of Research and Information on the Public, Social and Cooperative Economy on The Social Economy in the European Union,

The Association for Social Economics -
The Association for Social Economics was established in December 1941 in Washington, DC. The association was formed to advance scholarly research and writing about the great questions of economics, human dignity, ethics, and philosophy. Its members seek to explore the ethical foundations and implications of economic analysis, along with the individual and social dimensions of economic problems, and to help shape economic policy that is consistent with the integral values of the person and a humane community. Membership is open to anyone who affirms this purpose.

International Journal of Social Economics aims to provide its readers with a unique forum for the exchange and sharing of information in this complex area of economics. The journal will present the social-economic problems, as expressed by economists, philosophers, political scientists, historians and business academics, with their consequent ethical considerations.
The International Journal of Social Economics' specific coverage analyses the complex socio-economic factors at work and the work of key thinkers in socio-economics. Increasing economic interaction, allied to the social and political changes evident in many parts of the world, has created a need for more sophisticated understanding of the social, political and cultural influences which govern our societies.

Social Economy Partnerships and the Public/Private Cleavages
Joxerramon Bengoetxea, Universidad del País Vasco; Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law. June 13, 2012. - Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2012
Abstract: The importance of political theory or ideology in conceiving the relationships between ‘public’ and ‘private’, and the conceptions of a market economy as opposed to a social market economy cannot be exaggerated enough, but equally important are the legal or regulatory framework and the underlying dominant legal culture and legal principles, and of course the economic and financial situation.

The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies
July 2012 - by Michael Chui, James Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Charles Roxburgh, Hugo Sarrazin, Geoffrey Sands and Magdalena Westergren. - Kindle download -

Abstract: Social economy refers to a wide variety of enterprises and organizations that produce goods and services with the expressed goal of maximizing social, environmental or cultural impact. Social economy is emerging as an integrated system of social innovation, rooted in local and regional development and supported by new systems of governance based on partnerships with government, labour and the private sector. Nancy Neamtan discusses the emergence of the social economy in many countries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Africa, arguing that, rather than being considered a potential competitor with public or private enterprises, social economy should be considered an important part of an economic recovery strategy. In order for social economy to contribute to sustainable development, its existence should be formally recognized as an essential component of a pluralist economy and the manifestation of new relationships among the market, the public sector and civil society. In this respect, innovation in governance, adaptation of investment tools to the characteristics of the social economy and more research about the dynamics of the emerging experiences of social economy are considered key challenges for the future.

Situating the eco-social economy: conservation initiatives and environmental organizations as catalysts for social and economic development - Author Nathan James Bennett is a PhD candidate, SSHRC and Trudeau Scholar, Department of Geography, University of Victoria.
Abstract: The social economy is a third sector of the economy, besides the public and private sectors, that provides critical social and economic services to society. Theories and definitions of the social economy rarely include reference to environmental and conservation-focused activities or outcomes. This paper empirically situates the concept of an eco-social economy within the context of a community conservation initiative. This paper envisages a social economy that incorporates environmental organizations and conservation initiatives and movements and that makes explicit a distinct eco-social economy. This theoretical concept has global applicability.

Defining the Social Economy and its Governance at the Neighbourhood Level: A Methodological Reflection
Frank Moulaert, Global Urban Research Unit (GURU), University of Newcastle
Jacques Nussbaumer, CLERSE-IFRESI-CNRS, 2 rue des Canonniers.
Abstract: This largely methodological paper focuses on how to define the social economy and its governance at the local and especially the urban neighbourhood level. A distinction is made between essentialist and holistic definitions. The second section appraises the potential contribution of various current ideas in institutional economics and economic sociology to the definition of the social economy and its governance. The third section elaborates on the analytical elements required for defining the social economy from a holistic perspective, stressing the role of essentialist abstract categories, the role of local culture and articulation between spatial scales. We show how the notion of social capital defined through a 'holistic approach' can enrich the definition of the social economy. We stress the importance of empirical investigations in feeding into the holistic definitional work. The fourth section concludes the paper by enhancing the necessary dialogue between an abstract-essentialist and a contextualised holistic definition of the social economy at the neighbourhood level.

Social Economy, Third Sector and Solidarity Relations: A Conceptual Synthesis from History to Present
Frank Moulaert, Global Urban Research Unit (GURU), University of Newcastle,
Oana Ailenei, Economie Industrielle, University of Lille I, France,
Abstract: This paper attempts to provide a clear perspective on defining the social economy today. It addresses the question of the relevance of a unifying concept with its need to embrace the existing diversity of approaches and concepts. It surveys both historical and contemporary academic literature, as well as practice-rooted conceptualisations of the social economy. The first section outlines the analytical challenges to a reconstruction of the social economy concept. The second enhances the historical and space-bound diversity in theorising and institutionalising social economy practices. Section 3 focuses on contemporary reconceptualisations of the social economy in Francophone and Anglo-Saxon literature, while section 4 then suggests improvements to current 'social economy' concepts, by linking them to both the lessons of history and the views of social economy practitioners today.

Linkages between Social Economy and Poverty Alleviation in Cameroon - Alain A. Ndedi Yenepad ISTG-AC - July 6, 2013
Abstract: The social economy refers to those enterprises and organizations which use the tools and some of the methods of profit business, on a not-for-profit basis, to provide social and economic services to communities that need them. The social economy is then characterised by cooperative enterprises, based on principles of community solidarity that respond to new needs in social services, typically at the community or regional level. Social economy enterprises exhibit distinctive forms of organisation and governance such as worker co-operatives, associations and non-profit organisations.
In Cameroon, even before independence, traditional social economy policies were engaged in numerous activities that respond to people confronting poverty, or community challenges.
However, recent researches show that, social economy policies are not contributing enough in poverty reduction in a country where, up to eighty per cent of its citizen are in the informal sector.
This paper is an attempt to develop a framework that can be used to achieve the noble goal of reducing the number of poor people specially those living in rural areas through social economy projects.