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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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Conclusion. A Research Agenda for Statistics on the Social Economy

← 304 | 305 → Conclusion



Full professor, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada


Full professor, AGROCAMPUS OUEST, France

It is the authors who engage in a reflective questioning on the data and their construction who are more likely to receive criticism, doubt and suspicion from readers. By contrast, those who favor a non-reflective use of the data, maintaining the reader permanently at a very realistic level, protect themselves in advance from all criticism or ordinary doubt. [Our translation] (Lahire, 2006: 133)

This book brings together texts by authors who have directly or indirectly participated in the production of figures on the social economy across regions, countries and even internationally, usually with or for national statistical agencies and social economy actors. Compiled in chapters, their contributions offer an international perspective on these issues, presenting analyses from Belgium, Brazil, Canada (Quebec), Spain, the United States, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. The authors were asked not so much to elaborate on the methodologies used, which are already well described in the studies underlying the respective chapters, but to point out the contributions and limitations of the various approaches and to discuss their implications for public policy. The aim of this book was to open the black box of statistics in order to shed light on the scientific choices, understand the conditions of reproducibility and draw practical consequences. As emphasized by Pascal Rivière (2002: 145), this problem is largely underestimated...

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