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The Social Economy as Scholarly Discipline and SocioEconomic Practice


Theorization of the political sphere and the economic sphere. Social Sciences. Economics ( science) ... Non-Economic phenomena (religion) though economically relevant ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Social Economy as Scholarly Discipline and SocioEconomic Practice

The Social Economy as Scholarly Discipline and
Socio-Economic Practice
  • Benoît Lévesque
  • Associate Professor
  • UQÀM and ENAP
  • CSE Hub
  • Montreal, 13 November 2006

Presentation Outline
  • From utopia to disciplinary approaches
  • Contrasting practices based on convergence
    (France and Québec)
  • Theoretical constructions for analyzing the
    social economy (SE)

From utopia to so-called scientific disciplines
Theorization of the political sphere and the
economic sphere
Two utopias?
  • Liberalism
  • Reason (a science)
  • Nature (of things)
  • Individuals
  • A posteriori demonstration
  • Utopianism
  • Reason (a science)
  • Nature (human)
  • Association
  • Construction a priori
  • Current disorder
  • Proposal (utopia) Construction appealing to the

Sociology and social economy
  • Le Play (1806-1882)
  • SE science of peace and of the happy life,
    volunteer and contractual relationships,
    improvement in the physical and moral state of
    the population
  • Founded the Société déconomie sociale
  • Paris World Exposition (1855 1867) Journal La
    Réforme sociale (1881)
  • Weber (1864-1920)
  • Sozialokonomische Wissenschaft (beginning in
  • Economic events Institutions with economic
  • Non-Economic phenomena (religion) though
    economically relevant
  • Phenomena conditioned by the economy
  • Wirtschaftssoziologie (beginning in 1910)
  • Durkheim (1858-1917) during his stay in Germany
  • Social economy (Volkswirtschaft) -
  • Another definition of the economy history,
    institution, moral fact
  • Socio-Economics (Etzioni)

Economics and SE
  • Charles Gide (1847-1932)
  • Economist
  • Before SE an alternative approach
  • After SE a complementary approach to economics
  • Social economy actor
  • World Exposition in Paris
  • Actor in cooperative sphere (1886) École de
    Nîmes, FNCC (1902), unification of the
    cooperative movement (1912), etc.
  • Leon Walras (1834-1910)
  • SE that part of the science of wealth that
    deals with the distribution of wealth between
    individuals and the State, and that makes use of
    the principle of justice et non pas charity,
    fraternity, voluntary association …
  • Social Economics (Gary Becker) economics of
    social phenomena

Contrasting practices -- inspired by a variety
of ideas (The cases of France and Québec)
Reformulation of utopia?
  • Four SE schools (1890-1920)
  • Socialist school (Jaurès)
  • Liberal school self-help by individuals and
    economic advantages
  • Christian socialist school social doctrine of
    the Church (1891)
  • Solidarity school a cooperative republic (Gide)
  • From utopia to the third way (reorientation
    toward cooperation)
  • Cooperation as an end (as utopia)
  • From the community to the cooperative Republic
    (State as a form of coop.)
  • From the cooperative Republic to a cooperative
    sector (1932) alongside a public sector
    (cooperation in the general interest)
  • Cooperation as a means socialist, Christian and
    liberal views

Return of the social economy (1975)
  • a demand from cooperatives and mutuals (mutual
    associations, mutual benefit societies)
  • Redevelopment of relationship with the State
    (e.g. mutuality)
  • Cooperatives and mutuals in compwetition with the
    private sector
  • Need for legislative fine-tuning and external
  • A search for meaning death of the utopian
  • Choice of the term SE historical reference
  • Support from socialists (Rocard, Delors), Marxism
    in crisis
  • Extensive consultation among stakeholders
  • Recognition strategy
  • Between the major sectors (cooperatives and
  • By the public authorities of France (1981 IM
    delegation to the ES)
  • By the EEC, ILO, CIRIEC International and other
    countries (1978)
  • Centripetal forces and centrifugal forces

Centripetal forces and centrifugal forces
  • 1800-1850 1850-1901 1890-1920
    1920-1970 1980-2000

M 1852, 1898
Multi-functional associations
C 1894
A 1901
Political Context Economical context
Lévesque according to Vienney
Tensions and revivial of the SE (1990-2000)
  • For a European status for the SE
  • European cooperative status
  • Mutuals and associations without specific
  • Remobilization based on the solidarity-based
    economy (1990)
  • Solidarity-based economy, opposition to the SE
  • Promoters NMS, Green Party and local initiatives
  • Sectors the emerging SE and relational services
  • Labour-market integration projects
  • Proximity services
  • Social enterprises and solidarity (social)
  • Alternative rather than complementary
  • Toward a compromise (2000) the social and
    solidarity-based economy?
  • Interdepartmental delegation
  • Revue internationale de lÉS (an international
    review on the SE)
  • CIRIEC France

Emergence and recognition in the Quebec context
  • Global context
  • The Quebec model of voluntarist and corporatist
  • A plural economic structure importance of
    collective enterprises (government corporations
    and cooperatives)
  • Strong unions, community and womens groups
  • Limited consultation summits, forums (e.g. job),
    conventions, symposia (cooperation, rural
    society, community-based, etc.)
  • Immediate context Summit on the economy and
    employment (1996)
  • Exchange of ideas for a zero deficit and job
  • Traditional social partners womens and
    community groups
  • Chantiers (focussed working groups) over six
    months, including a working group on the SE.

Founding compromise emerging SE
  • Government budgetary cuts and job creation
  • Community groups a fully-fledged element
  • Womens groups quality jobs war on poverty
  • Cooperatives a new legitimacy worried about
  • Unions reject job substitution seek jobs with
    a future
  • Employers say YES to a downsizing of the State,
    discover the SE
  • Independent community action refuses inclusion
    in SE
  • Consequently, a SE development plan
  • Market SE non-market SE
  • Emerging SE, pilot projects or experienced
  • Labour-market integration, one of several types
    of SE
  • Objectives job creation and meeting unfulfilled
  • SE stakeholder in development model
  • Independent community action separate
  • Womens groups a Fund to wage war on poverty
    through labour market integration

Development plan of the SE working group
emerging SE (1996-2001)
  • Evolution of the emerging SE
  • 300 projects mainly in emerging sectors
    (cooperatives and associations)
  • Identification of promotion groups
  • Objective 20,000 jobs
  • Development tools
  • Capitalization RISQ
  • Training CSMO-ESAC
  • Research ARUC-ÉS
  • Technical resources for monitoring and coaching
  • A flexible governance structure
  • For 2 years at first (1996-1998), under the
    responsibility of the premier
  • Support from the Mouvement Desjardins and the CCQ
    (Quebec Cooperation Council)
  • In 1999, this structure is transformed into an
    independent body
  • CCQ refuses to join
  • Union representation
  • CRES representation
  • Representation of emerging SE sectors

One definition SE as inclusive
  • The question of definition
  • The Québec institutional definition three
  • A definition of economy and of social
  • economy substantive (inclusion of non-market
  • social welfare and citizenship
  • Ethical principles
  • The Walloon influence
  • The cooperative influence
  • Legal statuses cooperatives, mutuals and
  • For the inclusion of the emerging SE
  • Quebec an inclusive definition, but a mandate
    and a development/growth plan for the emerging SE
  • Canada plays a part in the emerging SE social
    cohesion and war on poverty

Observations concerning the 1996-2006 period
  • Benefits obtained (assessment still to be carried
  • Recognition of the SE by governments and most
    other sectors
  • Growth and strengthening of SE enterprises and
  • New tools, especially in the area of
  • University research on the SE and on cooperatives
    (Chairs and ARUC)
  • International influence (North-South)
  • Tensions are more structural than ideological
  • Between the initial mandate (growth of the
    emerging SE) and a so-called inclusive definition
    of the SE
  • Between the mission of the CCQ and that of the SE
  • CCQ grouping on the basis of legal status,
    monopoly of the cooperative representation SE
    Chantier whose mission extends the 1996 SE
    working group mandates, namely to promote and
    develop the emerging SE (associations and
  • Tension mounts as a result of the implementation
    of tools dedicated to the SE
  • In the administrative machinery of the State the
    Direction des coopératives (the government of
    Québec cooperatives directorate) and the Bureau
    de léconomie sociale (social economy office)
  • Québec (provincial level) and the federal
    government level
  • The necessary resolution of the most obvious and
    immediate conflicts will not make the structural
    tensions generating conflict disappear

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Comparison of France and Quebec
Theoretical Constructions for the Analysis of
Social Economy Practices
For an analysis of a societal and sectoral
  • Immediate historical context
  • Compromise and institutional recognition of the
  • Actors, definition adopted, growth strategy
  • Components of the SE
  • Enterprises and organizations
  • Cooperatives, mutuals and their affiliates
  • Associations with economic activities
  • Other forms of enterprises and organizations
  • Intersectoral and sectoral clusterings
  • Public policies and a development strategy
  • SE development programs
  • Development strategy and tools
  • Role of the SE in economic development and social

Diverse theoretical constructions (1)
  • Through the components (with their various legal
    statuses) and actors in the enterprise/association
    combination (Desroche).
  • Through the actors, activities and rules
  • Necessary but neglected activities
  • Comparatively dominated actors
  • Rules for harnessing the market (actors and the
    enterprise/association combination)
  • Values equity, mutual aid/support (Defourny)
  • Ultimate aim of service to members or to the
    community (non-profit)
  • Management independence
  • Democratic process
  • Primacy of people over capital in the
    distribution of profits
  • Co-construction of supply and demand
    hybridization of resources (Laville)

Diverse theoretical constructions (2)
  • Neo-institutionalism transaction costs, agency
    relationships, property rights, game theory
    (failure of markets and of the State) - Hansmann
  • Approaches based on conventions SE as a
    compromise between conventions (civic, domestic,
    market, opinion-based, project-related) -
    Enjolras, Thévenot
  • Regulation approach institutional compromise,
    mode of regulation, development model - Lipietz
  • Evolutionary approaches trajectory, path of
    dependency, collective learning, etc.

Diverse theoretical constructions (3)
  • Context (development model)
  • Collective and individual actors project (NMS)
  • Institutional form (regulation)
  • Organizational form (conventions)
  • Evaluation (economic and social performance)

  • In any given society or region, the predominant
    definition is institutional -- and it has a
    certain stability. On the other hand, whatever
    the society or region, researchers may choose
    from several definitions, depending on the
    theoretical approaches they adopt.
  • For a socio-economic or institutional approach
    all economies are social, including corporate
    capitalism (which, however, does not recognize
    this social aspect). There is a continuum that
    extends beyond legal status.
  • As concerns the practices and actors that, we
    maintain, belong to the social economy, the
    question is not so much one of who belongs as
    one of who WANTS to belong and what project
    they have in mind.

  • One of the lessons in the history of the social
    economy is that it feeds on alternative utopias
    while developing as a regulatory economy. It
    defines an ideology, that is, a group of ideas
    capable of providing actors with reasons for
    getting involved, but does not produce an
    autonomous economic system. Jean-François
    Draperi, 2000.
  • But we cannot imagine a society without a
    utopia, for this would be a society without
    purpose. Paul Ricoeur