Social and Solidarity-based Economy and Territory

From Embeddedness to Co-construction

by CIRIEC (Volume editor) Xabier Itçaina (Volume editor) Nadine Richez-Battesti (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 376 Pages


The articulation between the social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) and territory is not self-evident. For the contributions to this volume, the challenge was one of disentangling these interrelations by avoiding two pitfalls. The first, the idealist perspective, sees SSE as the magic answer to all neoliberalism-related ills. The demystifing perspective, by contrast, emphasizes the relentless routinization and isomorphism of SSE enterprises, which eventually end up resorting to market-oriented and/or public economy oriented models. Local case studies can extricate from this dilemma. Close observation of complex local configurations where public, private, associative and cooperative actors and issues are deeply entangled, enables to achieve a nuanced understanding of the territorial dynamics of the SSE. This book is the result of the International Ciriec working group on SSE and territory (http://www.ciriec.uliege.be/en/research/commission-es/themes-en-cours/theme-de-recherche-1-2). It emanates from an interdisciplinary dialogue conducted among researchers from nine countries and two continents, Europe and America. If contexts vary from one country to another, the contributions underline the capacity of SSE to elaborate original inputs to social, economic and sustainable local development. Based on original case studies, the contributions illustrate different strategies of SSE organisations in their respective territories. SSE provides an innovative answer to changes in socio-economic and political regulations, by promoting new forms of territorial cooperation. Despite the differences between the case studies, all the chapters of this book contribute towards a balanced approach to the territorial regimes of the SSE which interweaves socio-economic approaches to local and community development, analysis of SSE governance, social mobilizations and territorial policymaking.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Changing Social Economies in Changing Territories (Nadine Richez-Battesti)
  • Part I: SSE and Territory: An Answer to the Socio-economic and Political Changes?
  • Chapter 1: Financing the Social and Solidarity Economy in Québec. At the Crossroads of Territorial Development and Solidarity-Based Investment (Marie J. Bouchard / Tassadit Zerdani)
  • Chapter 2: Cooperative Banks and Territories. When Anchorage Improves Performance (Nadine Richez-Battesti / Béatrice Chauvin)
  • Chapter 3: The Social Economy in Borderscapes. The Changing Cross-Border Dynamics of the Social Economy in the Basque Country (Xabier Itçaina / Marc Errotabehere)
  • Chapter 4: The “Farmers’ Market” Phenomenon. A Survey on the Farmers’ Market’s Customers in the City of Cesena (Andrea Bassi / Sara Fabbri)
  • Chapter 5: Social Economy and Territorial Development in Romania. The Challenge of Clustering Coops and New Social Enterprises in the Post-Communist Re-Construction of Rural Production and Trade Chains (Cristina Barna / Ancuţa Vameşu)
  • Chapter 6: Venezuela: An Outlook on SSE, Water for People and Related Public Policies (Benito Díaz / Angel Higuerey / Mario Fagiolo / Leonardo Argüello / Fernando Aponte)
  • Part II: Towards new Heterogeneous Forms of Territorial Cooperations?
  • Chapter 7: Exploring the Conceptualization and Design of “IEP-Sites”. SSE Initiatives Aiming for an Inclusive Economic Participation within Flemish Urban Cities (Nathalie Vallet / Simon De Nys-Ketels / Michelle Bylemans)
  • Chapter 8: New Responses to (not so) Old Problems. Local Innovation in Portuguese Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) (Susana Bernardino / Deolinda Meira / J. Freitas Santos)
  • Chapter 9: A Delphi Study on the Cooperativization of the Social Services in the Province of Gipuzkoa (Enekoitz Etxezarreta Etxarri / Eusebio Lasa Altuna / Anjel Mari Errasti Amozarrain / Juan Carlos Perez de Mendiguren)
  • Chapter 10: Social Economy and Sustainable Territorial Development. The Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Labor in Southern Brazil (Maurício Serva / Júlia Graeff)
  • Chapter 11: Territorial Clusters of Economic Cooperation. New Levers for Local and Regional Regulation? (Danièle Demoustier)
  • Chapter 12: Territorial Legitimacy of Large Social Economy Enterprises. Analysis of a Speech by the President of a Cooperative Group (Alexandrine Lapoutte / Martine Vézina / Marie-Claire Malo)
  • General Conclusion: Territorial Regimes and Changes in Sociopolitical and Socioeconomic Regulations (Xabier Itçaina)
  • List of Contributors
  • Series index

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The present volume is the result of the CIRIEC International Working Group on Social and Solidarity-based economy and Territory. The editors want to thank the authors for their patience in what has turned to be a long but fruitful process of publication. The book could not have been produced without the support of the Social Economy & Public Economy CIRIEC Series at Peter Lang. Our thanks go to Christine Dussart, research assistant at the International scientific commission Social and Cooperative Economy at CIRIEC International, to Barbara Sak, managing director CIRIEC International and CIRIEC Belgium, to Philippe Bance, President of the CIRIEC International Scientific Council, to Bernard Thiry, General Director of CIRIEC International, and to Benoît Lévesque, professor emeritus at UQAM and former president of the CIRIEC International Scientific Council. Finally, our special thanks go to Armelle Jézéquel (Centre Émile Durkheim) who prepared the final manuscript of this book. In addition, Xabier Itçaina thanks the Région Aquitaine for its support through the research programs Vers une gouvernance transfrontalière en réseau ? Expériences transfrontalières du tiers secteur en France et au Royaume-Uni (Sciences Po Bordeaux, Centre Émile Durkheim-Région Aquitaine, 2010-2014) and ESSAQUI : Institutionnalisations en miroir de l’économie sociale et solidaire en Aquitaine (Sciences Po Bordeaux, Centre Émile Durkheim-Région Aquitaine, 2015-2019). ← 11 | 12 →

← 12 | 13 →


Changing Social Economies in Changing Territories


Aix-Marseille University, LEST-CNRS UMR 7317

This book is the result of an International Ciriec Working Group on social and solidarity economy and territory. It is the fruit of an interdisciplinary dialogue among researchers from nine countries and two continents, Europe and America. If contexts widely vary from one country to another, the different contributions underline the capacity of social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) to elaborate original inputs to social, economic and sustainable development. Generally focused on original case studies, at a geographical or organizational level, papers illustrate different strategies of SSE in their territories: answer to socio economic or political changes, renewal and increased heterogeneity of territorial cooperations? More specifically, they show the diversity of links between SSE and territory at a meso-economic scale and different articulations with politics and policies. Most of the time, their embeddedness depends on the intensity of their networks and their capacity to renew it along the time.

We first present the general framework elaborated for this book before introducing the two parts and their components.

1.  A neo-institutionalist framework

1.1.  Territory as a social construction

The relation to the territory is a central element of the social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) to the point of being presented by the actors from the field as one of its constitutive values. The forms of ← 13 | 14 → anchorage and territorial dynamics of the SSE are diverse, subject to institutional arrangements and deserve careful analysis.

At the meso-theoretical level, the SSE can be analyzed from a dialogue between the various institutionalist, proximist and territorialist approaches. These approaches share a critical stance towards those asserting the uniqueness of a rational agent, axiologically neutral and aspatial, for which the territory is reduced to an external spatial variable with low explanatory value.

In contrast, we consider the territory as a social construction, or “a gathering of players in a given spatial context that seeks to bring out, then attempt to resolve under environmental constraint, a shared societal or production problem” (Pecqueur, Itçaina, 2012). Territory builds up through the activities of its players in a spatial context which dimensions are not only geographical but also organizational and institutional. In the best case, the territory becomes a player itself who can rely on a governance form that gives him the possibility to speak with one voice. From this angle, the SSE, given its origins and characteristics, is not only part of the territory but also contributes to its building, in particular at the governance and social aim levels, overpassing the sole economic logic.

Territorial governance, in that sense, takes on a transversal meaning, both socio-economic and political, as referring to a mechanism “of coordination of players, but also of appropriation of resources and construction of the territoriality” (Leloup, Moyart, Pecqueur, 2005) in which the public policy-makers are nodal but not monopolistic. The whole challenge then consists of enrolling the territorial actors, including the SSE organizations, in this process, in order to “encourage their adhesion, participation and involvement in an idea of collective construction of systems of public action” (Ibid.: 329).

1.2.  “New” status for the SSE and the renewal of sectors as territorial constructions

From then on, and from a methodological viewpoint, the interactions between the SSE with all its diversity (associations, cooperatives, mutual societies, foundations and social enterprises) and the territory should be reviewed regarding corporate governance as well as territorial governance. Indeed, is governance revealing to be strategic given the objectives that are put forward, especially as these objectives cannot be reached by one category of players alone? Are dominant governance forms characterized ← 14 | 15 → by more horizontality and cooperation by opposition to verticality and constraint?

More widely, the territorial reference is situated at the confluence of entrepreneurial models, public policies and socio-territorial mobilizations. In particular, the emergence and consolidation, in many countries, of multi-stakeholder statutes for the organizations of the SSE bringing together private, SSE and public players in the name of the territorialized general interest provides a solid base for comparison. If the Italian social cooperatives, for instance, are the classic example of multi-stakeholder organizations, similar institutional innovations have also emerged elsewhere. For Southern Europe alone, the SCIC in France, the social initiative cooperatives in Spain, the social cooperatives and the community cooperatives in Italy are significant examples of these institutional arrangements with strong territorial anchorage.

It is then relevant to address SSE and specifically these new organizational forms by combining a socio-economic approach (socio economic level) and a twofold political approach (public policies and social movements; political level).

At the socio-economic level, this book is an opportunity to better understand the contribution of the SSE to territorial regulation in the sense of the “mode of interaction and coordination of activities, employment and incomes and capital flows that allow a guarantee of the regularity of the production system” (Demoustier, Richez-Battesti, 2010: 8). Is territory only one single element of contextualization, one resource among others or is it a real strategic actor in social and economic initiatives?

How did the organizational innovations proper to the SSE contribute over the past 30 years to transform the relation of the “civil economy” (Bruni, Zamagni, 2009) with its territory? How did the organizational innovations contributed to internalize the territory within the SSE organizations? Are we witnessing strategic changes within organizations, given the development of a more territorialized and open governance in the territory? How does the link with the territory find expression and affirm itself within the organization: is it embodied only in its governance bodies? Or does it draw support from the new internal coordination mechanisms (strategic committees and other scientific committees…)? What are the effects of the local context on these organizations? Finally, how could the risks of localism and enclosure be avoided? ← 15 | 16 →

From another perspective, how do we address the emergence, the development and the first effects of these new territorial networks of the SSE, most often carried by the players of the SSE themselves: we refer here to the territorial clusters of economic cooperation that are developing in France or, again, to the SSE clusters. What links do these experiences maintain with the remaining actors of local development? What does the situation look like in distinct national contexts?

Beyond that aspect, at the meso-economic scale, how should we address the renewal and diversification of the short production chains, often initiated by the SSE organizations, whether they concern agriculture, trade, energy production, or the taking into account of waste management? How do we assess the effects on a territory in terms of modes of cooperation, price-setting behavior, strategies for coproduction and their forms of incorporation in the territories? Can we define sectorial ideal-type or national models?

Finally, this work is mainly interested by emerging forms of SSE that mobilize multiple stakeholders without neglecting more institutionalized forms, represented for instance by cooperative groups. Because the organizational and statutory innovations are also likely to affect indirectly the more traditional forms of the SSE, such as the cooperative banks or agricultural cooperatives, generally of large size, do these organizations reinvent their relation to the territory and if so, according to which rules and procedures?

At a political level, the relation with politics and policy must then be analyzed from two angles.

The first one, centered on public policies, refers to the contribution of the SSE to territorial governance, here understood as a “framework of institutional rules and procedures for decision-making on the mode of territorial development through public debate, public action and, more precisely, the production of public policies” (Demoustier, Richez-Battesti, 2010). The participative imperative was able to bring different actors together in a joint approach to territorial governance and the institutionalization of the SSE (Bassi, 2010; Ségas, 2007; Jérôme, 2010). However, the assumption of perfect congruence between the SSE and horizontal territorial governance, in particular via the new statutes and cooperation mechanisms, needs to be challenged (Itçaina, Pecqueur, 2012). How do we approach the relation between social capital, social economy and local development policies (Kay, 2005; Evans, Syrett, ← 16 | 17 → 2007)? What are the territorial processes for publicization of support for the SSE, including their contentious dimensions? Are their different processes of institutionalization of the SSE as a policy sector? How should we characterize the resulting process of standardization? Finally, what is the impact of the scale of sectorial policies (Jullien, Smith, 2008) on the dynamics of the SSE?

The second political dimension refers to the links between the SSE and social movements, considered here from their territorial dimension. Social movements research manifests a new interest in cooperative and SSE organizations as organizational supports for movements in search of alternative ways of action, in order to compensate for a lack of access to policy-making (Soule, 2012; Schneiberg et al., 2008). By way of an example Arthur et al. have also seen in the mobilizations around the takeover as a cooperative of the Tower Colliery mine in Wales the expression of a contentious social space (Arthur et al., 2004). Through the ethnographic analysis of the Hotel Bauen, set up as a workers’ cooperative in Buenos Aires, Faulk (2008) points out how cooperativism, as a social movement (distinguishing between formal cooperativism, affective cooperativism or compañerismo and community participation) creates space for the emergence of new conceptions of work and citizenship, alternative conceptions to the dominant neoliberal model. In Southern Italy, social cooperatives have managed to become one of the organizational instruments of mobilizations of the civil society fighting organized crime (Buccolo, 2013). In the Basque Country and in Quebec, the complex historic articulation between cooperativism and territorial identity mobilizations, under various banners, has also been emphasized. More recently, we could observe whether the anti-austerity mobilizations, particularly in Southern Europe, have completed their protest by local innovations in the matter of the social and solidarity-based economy. This opens up a field of discussion, still largely unexplored, on the role of social movements in the production, implementation and acceptance of organizational innovations of the SSE.

Since SSE develops very differently from one territory to another and since territories are also contrasted (in terms of public policies and social movements) we consider that relations between the territory and the SSE take a large diversity of configurations constituted by social innovations. This explains the choice of cases which components rest upon a large diversity of organizational and institutional forms and trajectories. ← 17 | 18 →

2.  A book in two parts and twelve chapters

Once the general frame of the book is presented, two thematics structure the work.

The first part of the book, SSE and territory an answer to the socio-economic and political changes?, tries to analyze the effects of socioeconomic and political changes on the link between SSE and territory. Is it a context encouraging, maybe by default, local innovations on SSE, with the development of new experiments, e.g. short food supply chains, new modalities of job and social and economic value creation, responsible finance, or management of common goods as water, etc.? Are there new ways to articulate global and local dimensions through experiences based on proximity and control of the whole economic circuit? To which extent are these initiatives related to social movements (notably anti-austerity ones) but also to local policy makers?

The second part, Towards new heterogeneous forms of territorial cooperation? presents the restructuring of local cooperation strategies between heterogeneous actors at the territorial level. What role do civil society and public actors play in these processes, which might result in territorially contrasted forms of institutionalization of SSE as a policy-sector? If responses to social needs are dominant in several articles, this second part is more centered on the dynamics of public actors.

2.1.  Part 1: SSE and territory: an answer to the socio-economic and political changes?


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (June)
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2018. 374 p.

Biographical notes

CIRIEC (Volume editor) Xabier Itçaina (Volume editor) Nadine Richez-Battesti (Volume editor)

Xabier Itçaina is a CNRS senior researcher in political science at Sciences Po Bordeaux (France) and director of the Centre Emile Durkheim (UMR5116 CNRS, Sciences Po Bordeaux, University of Bordeaux). Nadine Richez-Battesti is a senior lecturer in economic sciences at Aix-Marseille University and researcher at LEST (UMR 7317 CNRS), Research center in labor economy and sociology.


Title: Social and Solidarity-based Economy and Territory