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Social Economy, Third Sector and Solidarity Relations: A Conceptual Synthesis from History to Present

By Frank Moulaert and Oana Ailenei


Summary. This paper attempts to provide a clear perspective on defining the social economy today. It addresses the question of the relevance of a unifying concept with its need to embrace the existing diversity of approaches and concepts. To this end, it surveys both historical and contemporary academic literature, as well as practice-rooted conceptualisations of the social economy. The first section outlines the analytical challenges to a reconstruction of the social economy concept. The second enhances the historical and space-bound diversity in theorising and institutionalising social economy practices. Section 3 focuses on contemporary reconceptualisations of the social economy in Francophone and Anglo-Saxon literature, while section 4 then suggests improvements to current ‘social economy ’ concepts, by linking them to both the lessons of history and the views of social economy practitioners today. 1

Year: 2013
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