Social Economy and social enterprises in the European Union. The case of the Spanish region of Aragón
del Negro, Grazia
Psicologia y Sociologia Universidad de Zaragoza Zaragoza, Espana
Social Economy is a complex, heterogeneous, dynamic and flexible sector that contributes to rectify three major labour market imbalances: unemployment, job instability and the social and labour exclusion of the unemployed. Within it, there is the particularly interesting sphere of the social enterprises, that are organizations subjected to a double tension: on the one hand, they have to participate in the market, so they must compete with other firms and be viable in terms of price, cost and quality; on the other hand, they want to be a means of social inclusion by means of employment. Moreover, they are organizations combining income from sales or fees from users with public subsidies linked to their social mission and private donations and/or volunteering. The concept of social enterprise, it first appeared in Italy, where it was promoted by a journal entitled Impresa sociale launched in 1990. The concept was introduced at the time to designate the pioneering initiatives for which the Italian Parliament created the legal form of "social cooperative" one year later. Straight after, other European countries have passed new laws to promote social enterprises.
This contribution focuses on the social economy like a phenomenon that has gained a larger institutional consideration and that is more and more present in the politic discussion and in the economic speech. After an introductory part to introduce concept and evolution of social economy across Europe, it shows a possible way by which social economy expresses itself, through the particular case of social enterprises in Aragón; to finish reflecting upon the key challenges social enterprises are facing, and upon the social cohesion?s role that social economy's sector is called to carry out.