The concept of ‘social economy’ assembles diverse initiatives, like cooperatives, associations, mutual societies, foundations and other member-based organizations. These initiatives share common characteristics: they are autonomous organizations and enterprises; they value service to the community over profi t; they rely on voluntary participation and democratic governance.
Where markets and states fail, social economy organizations bring about social innovation and change. Social economy initiatives intend to answer to people’s needs and aspirations, always and everywhere.
For a better knowledge and understanding of the social economy, this book offers a broad view on the recent changes and innovations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The contributions cover various topics, such as social protection, fair trade and microfi nance. Several chapters deal with the delicate relation with the state (in Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil and Venezuela); others present a special focus on important new regional dynamics (in Africa, China, Europe and the United States).
With contributions of scholars from around the globe, the book clearly demonstrates that in a range of contexts and regions social economy organizations and enterprises are reinventing themselves, proposing social innovations and bringing about substantial social change.