The Social Economy

Building Inclusive Economies

image of The Social Economy

Social economy -- also known as 'non-profit' or 'third sector' -- organisations have grown in number and relevance, contributing to employment, social inclusion, democratic participation and community building. Much remains to be done, however, to create the necessary enabling environment to support their creation and development and to mainstream the sector in economic and social policies. This publication offers new insights into the economic theory of social economy organisations, their role in an evolving political and economic context, and the links to local development and the empowerment of users. Building on theoretical and empirical developments in OECD member countries, the publication also presents the main challenges for the social economy in Central East and South East Europe. Recommendations for action are included.



Executive Summary

The social economy, whilst in no way a new phenomena, has been reinvigorated in recent decades. While the decline of the welfare state has been an important trigger in stimulating the growth and development of the social economy, other factors including changes to local economies, the exclusion of some vulnerable groups and a gradual move away from traditional conceptions of civil society organisations towards more dynamic, issue oriented organisations have also contributed to the reinvigoration of the sector. Social economy organisations have moved to fill the gaps left by the market and the state, and have shown themselves to be innovative, adaptable and responsive to local needs when provided with the opportunity and environment which enables them to fill their potential.


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