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Social and Solidarity-based Economy and Territory

From Embeddedness to Co-construction

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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 (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.

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Chapter 11: Territorial Clusters of Economic Cooperation. New Levers for Local and Regional Regulation? (Danièle Demoustier)

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CHAPTER 11

Territorial Clusters of Economic Cooperation

New Levers for Local and Regional Regulation?

Danièle DEMOUSTIER

Sciences Po Grenoble

Introduction: Why clusters?

The revival of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) since the 1970s has been broadly based on a proliferation of small-scale local, associative and cooperative organizations. This vitality has taken the form of a fragmentation of small-scale, often specialized organizations and increasing competition between them, aggravated by an increasing scarcity of public resources. This dynamic of renewal and development is reaching its limits, with the fragility of organizations and in the low territorial (local and regional) impact of their action, segmented as it is by activity or by public. The solution of concentration by merger and absorption, a model specific to the Fordist economy, is no longer the most effective response because of the need for SSE entities to have greater autonomy, for responses to be differentiated, for flexibility and for reactivity as well as because of the strength of commitment within small organizations. In numerous activities, economies of scale, access to multiple skills or the distribution of positive external factors result more from modes of mutualization and of cooperation than from processes of concentration.

This atomization of structures is a particular brake within certain business sectors: inclusion through economic activity has already begun a transformation through the creation of workplace integration coordination schemes and of “solidarity economy groups...

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