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Social and Solidarity-based Economy and Territory

From Embeddedness to Co-construction


Edited By CIRIEC, Xabier Itçaina and Nadine Richez-Battesti

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 ( 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.

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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)


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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

Laboratorul de Solidaritate – Solidarity Laboratory

Social economy can be considered an alternative meso-economic model for many territories in Romania, a determinant of sustainable territorial development, especially in poor rural areas affected by economic downturn following the post-communist transition. A strategy of strengthening of social capital and s building-up of social enterprises could lead to the re-construction of viable territories with new competitive advantages, able to meet local needs in an innovative manner, and thus acting locally, to contribute to solving some of Romania’s major socio-economic challenges: big gaps in living standards between rural and urban areas, poverty and social exclusion, unemployment and substantial informal and black economy.

This paper has three main research objectives. In the first part we analyze the stage of re-creation of social capital (first objective) and re-configuration of social economy in Romania at national level after the communist fall (second objective), considering theoretical clarification of the terms “social capital”, “social economy”, “territorial/local development” and an analysis of the inter-relations social enterprises – social capital – territorial development (third objective).

The second part is a case study which analyses the re-configuration of social economy at the level of an integrated rural territory placed ← 133 | 134 → around...

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