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.


The Social Economy in the New Political Economic Context

The importance of the social economy is evidenced by its position on local, regional, national and even international agendas at a time when old political and economic certainties have given way to “New Times” – with uncertainties and instabilities rooted in the economic changes taking place and the political events which have marked the twenty-first century. The changes that have taken, and are taking place must also be put into the wider context of not only the European Union, but also the international context of a world post 11 September 2001, the polarisation which accompanied it, and the dominance of neo-liberal economic discourse. It is the task of this brief chapter to review the social economy under these circumstances and to explore the potential roles which the social economy may play, and the pitfalls which accompany such roles. Recognising the importance of culture on the development of the social economy, this chapter briefly considers the different paths which the social economy may pursue within the current political and economic contexts.


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