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The Weight of the Social Economy

An International Perspective


Edited By CIRIEC, Marie J. Bouchard and Damien Rousselière

What is the weight of the social economy? How should we measure it? Throughout the world, cooperatives, non-profit and mutual benefit organizations, foundations and other social enterprises play an important role in job creation, social cohesion, social innovation, regional development and environmental protection. Observations tend to confirm the ability of the social economy to contribute to balancing economies, mainly by serving as an anti-cyclical force in the face of economic crises. However, many countries and regions lack statistical information about its weight, size and scope on their territory.
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.

This book is the result of the International Ciriec working group on "The Weight and Size of the Social Economy – International Perspectives for the Production of Statistics for the Social Economy" developed by the CIRIEC International Scientific Commission "Social and Cooperative Economy":

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International Comparisons. Lessons from the Measurement of the Nonprofit Component

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Professor, Johns Hopkins University, and director,Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, USA


Senior research associate for the Johns HopkinsCenter for Civil Society Studies, USA


International Research Projects Manager atthe Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, USA

A global “associational revolution” (Salamon, 1994) has swept the globe in the last three decades, resulting in a massive upsurge of private, voluntary activity in virtually every corner of the globe. The product of new communications technologies, popular demands for high quality public services, dissatisfaction with the operations of both the market and the state in coping with the inter-related social and economic challenges of our day, the availability of international assistance, and, last but not least, the rapidly growing numbers of educated individuals eager to use their skills and knowledge to make a social impact, this “associational revolution” has focused new attention and energy on the broad range of institutions and activities that occupy the social space between, or beyond, the market and the state.

The emergence of this set of institutions has significantly changed how we think about the relationships among the market, the state, and ← 117 | 118 → society, and triggered a new momentum that has helped to usher in democratic governments to over half of the global population and empower previously excluded segments of society. Previously thought to be largely restricted to the developed West,...

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