An International Perspective
This book fills a gap in the literature about the social economy. It seeks to explain why it is important to have statistics on it, to understand how they are produced, and to project how the social economy might be better understood in the future. The book offers researchers and decision-makers an overview of the current state of knowledge on these topics.
Organizing the Field of the Social Economy. The Social Economy and Its Classification Within Systems of National Accounts
← 90 | 91 →Organizing the Field of the Social Economy
Professor emeritus, Centre d’économie de la Sorbonne, France
For it is not a question of linking consequences, but of grouping and isolating, of analysing, of matching and pigeon-holing concrete contents; there is nothing more tentative, nothing more empirical (superficially, at least) than the process of establishing an order among things; nothing that demands a sharper eye or a surer, better-articulated language; nothing that more insistently requires that one allow oneself to be carried along by the proliferation of qualities and forms. And yet an eye not consciously prepared might well group together certain similar figures and distinguish between others on the basis of such and such a difference: in fact, there is no similitude and no distinction, even for the wholly untrained perception, that is not the result of a precise operation and of the application of a preliminary criterion.
Michel Foucault, Les mots et les choses, 1966, pp. xxi
Standard classifications were developed to simplify the complex world of the corporate sector, to analyze the international exchange of goods and services, and to enable cross-country comparisons of production sectors and products. They date back to the beginning of international exchange and are much older than the first system of national accounts (Vanoli, 2002). From a mathematical point of view, classifications are embedded partitions. They introduce discontinuities in a continuous reality (e.g., from the smallest to the largest producer) under the following hypothesis:
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