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Category business:
Country: France

Social Enterprises in France

Didier Chabanet and Manlio Cinalli - Sciences Po Paris, Patrick Gilormini - ESDES Business School Lyon and Atelier de l’Entrepreneuriat Humaniste (AEH)

Abstract: Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) has grown along with the French welfare state, which has gradually built from the industrial revolution around two distinct policy principles: assistance and insurance. It was after the Second World War that the SSE becomes a pillar of the State in social protection. However, in the early 1980s, the emergence of mass unemployment destabilizes insurance mechanisms, which are no longer financed by a sufficient number of contributors, while the rise of social exclusion leads to the multiplication of devices assistance. It is in this context of economic crisis that SSE is booming again, thanks to the rise of the local authorities which became the major actors behind various social integration policies with the decentralization laws. SSE continues to grow, but in substantially different forms, not as a quasi public service offering the same rights to everyone on the whole national territory, but closer to local communities in a partnership with private actors. The spectacular success of the figure of the “social entrepreneur” crystallizes this evolution, which is strongly contested by the solidarity economy. In this respect, the Law of 21 July 2014, which is the first devoted exclusively to the SSE marks an historical rupture by allowing, under certain conditions, commercial companies to integrate the field of SSE.