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Social Enterprises in Spain

Richard Pfeilstetter; Itziar Gómez-Carrasco University of Sevilla

Abstract: Historically, the Spanish social enterprise has always been strongly related to the cooperative movement. This is still true in the current context and can be seen as a direct outcome of the relatively stable structural unemployment and dual labour market that characterizes the Spanish economy. Cooperatives of any kind can access public funding schemes for social service provision as long as they are recognized as social initiative cooperatives. Similarly, other typical Spanish social enterprises (such as work integration enterprises or special employment centres) focus on employment provision or employment qualification. The recent historical context of the Spanish social enterprise is the transition period from the Franco dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy in the 1970s, which gave way to successive political efforts to establish a social welfare system according to European-continental standards. Several characteristics of the Spanish context for social enterprises can be mentioned. Until today, social service provision has mainly been guaranteed through employment (i.e. contribution-based) rather than on the basis of need or citizenship. Social service provision is federalized in Spain, nevertheless, legislation among regions in this area is often fairly similar, while the political and economic situations across Spanish regions are very heterogeneous. The passing of Law 5/2011 on Social Economy provided a special political impulse to social enterprises in Spain. This law establishes the general principles of the social economy (social objective, democratic decision-making, limited profit distribution, independence from public authorities) and provides a list of organizational types included in the social economy that is open ended (i.e. potentially any legal entity that fulfils the aforementioned principles is included).