What is the social economy?

In the Erasmus Mundus social and solidarity economy project, social/solidarity economy organisations/enterprises were considered to be those that:

  • give priority to people over capital. (Capital is a means and not an end); 
  • aim to serve their members or the community as a whole, instead of striving for financial profit alone;
  • are catalytic organizations for employment creation and/or self-employment;
  • are neither private businesses nor public agencies;
  • are market and trading oriented;
  • have democratic governance, where decision making process involves users, workers and beneficiaries;
  • are based on principles such as: participatory governance, solidarity and caring for human resources, sustainability of natural resources, individual and collective responsibility and accountability for outcomes;
  • use profits to further the social aims of the enterprise for sustainable development and for the common good.
  • It is sometimes known as the economy for common good. It includes the  parts of the not-for-profit sector which involve trading, such as social enterprises and co-operatives.

Pearce Social Economy Diagram (PDF 65kB)

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