The thematic section of the last number of a scientific review “International Review of Sociology” (Volume 26, Issue 1, 2016) was curated by Euricse researchers Carlo Borzaga, Giulia Galera and Luca Fazzi.
Over the past decades, social enterprises have been acknowledged as key welfare actors in several EU countries. In spite of the extensive research devoted to exploring them, some issues concerning the definition, drivers and roles played by policies in sustaining social enterprise growth are still highly contested. Papers published in this monographic section reconstruct the debate that has accompanied the emergence and development of social enterprises with a view to providing evidence of the advantages of collective participation for social enterprise emergence and growth. The articles underline the key factors that have led to the emergence and success of social enterprises as a form of self-organization of civil society.
The articles in this thematic section describe the situation in Italy, Sweden and Japan and have been written by, in addition to the curators, Giacomo Degli Antoni (Department of Law, University of Parma), Akira Kurimoto (Institute for Solidarity-based Society, Hosei University, Tokyo), Yurie Kumakura (School of Commerce, Meiji University, Tokyo) and Johan Vamstad (Department of Social Sciences, Ersta Sköndal University College, Stockholm).
Giacomo degli Antoni is the author of “The emergence of social enterprises through the initiative of self-organized citizens: an analysis starting from Olson’s approach to the logic of collective action”. This article provides indirect empirical evidence with which to verify whether the logic of collective action maintained by Olson represents a sound theoretical approach to social enterprises.
Carlo Borzaga and Giulia Galera’s contribution is entitled, “Innovating the provision of welfare services through collective action: the case of Italian social cooperatives”. Through a critical investigation of social cooperatives’ emergence, integration into public policies, and reaction to the financial crisis, the authors refocus attention on one of the key modes of creation of social enterprises that has not gained the attention it deserves: the bottom-up dynamic.
Akira Kurimoto and Yurie Kumakura contributed “Emergence and evolution of co-operatives for elderly care in Japan”. This article explores the emergence and evolution of co-operatives for elderly care created to cope with the unprecedented speed of aging, the quasi-market reforms in social welfare policy and the long-term care insurance system introduced in 2000.
Johan Vamstad’s “Bottom-up childcare in a top-down welfare state: explaining cooperative organization among Swedish parents” explores several different motives for starting parent cooperatives in Sweden, with special attention to the role of the public sector and political decisions.