Social Economy and public policies. Analysis of policy change, explanatory factors and findings (Ph.D. dissertation abstract)

It is a well-known fact the Social Economy has acquired a prominent relevance during the last decade because of its potential to provide new solutions to the problems generated by the system.

The potential of Social Economy was evident for the public authorities, researchers and society. In this context, when political, economic and social crisis occur, then changes in the political agenda happen. It is therefore necessary to analyze whether the Social Economy has been included in the mainstream political agenda during this current crisis.

The main objective of this Thesis is to analyze whether any political change has benefited the Social Economy during last years, to study the elements which produced the political change, and finally to identify the policies derived from these changes.

Specifically the research questions proposed are:

  1. Are the Social Economy emerging as a field of action in public policies in Europe in recent years?
  2. What elements are able to explain the change of direction in public policies?
  3. How become real the new public policies which are considering (or taking into account) the Social Economy?

In the first part of the thesis, the theoretical framework, analyses the major theoretical contributions in connection to the Social Economy and public policies, in order to describe the state of the art and establish the analytical categories of the study.

In the second part, empirical evidence required to answer the questions in this research is collected. Specifically, to compare if there exist a political change regarding to the Social Economy, emerging this as political subject, it collects all those statements, communications, laws, etc. That show an increase of interest from the political power toward the Social Economy.

According to other factors related to the political changes, it must be considered different scenarios. In particular, Spain, Walloon region and European institutions will be analyzed. To achieve this objective, we performed an analysis of the streams and the factors described in the Multiple Streams Framework Theory (Kingdon, 2011) improved with others theories of policy entrepreneurs (Sabatier et al, 2009; Sabatier y Jenkins-Smith, 1999).

In order to analyse how the political change has been materialized, the policies for the promotion of the Social Economy of the different realities will be identified, analysed and valued. We will also explore the evolution of the economic resources devoted to the promotion measures identified.

Regarding the answer of the first question, the study concludes that, after the turning point in the socio-economic development since the onset of the crisis in 2008, Social Economy has emerged as a priority in public policies. A change in the political discourse is observed, which is materialized in the new legislative texts adopted, as posed the clear increase in the level of institutional recognition.

In relation with the different items that contributed to produce a political change, we have to take into account: the problems generated by the situation of crisis and the social, political and scientific reactions raised; the strength and resistance demonstrated by the Social Economy compared to the crisis situation. Furthermore, a structured representation exists, with Access to the channels of institutional participation, and with empirical support.

The elements which block the political change towards the Social Economy are: the increase of the public deficit, which is gaining importance in the political agenda, giving rise to policies of budgetary austerity, that in turn determines the development of policies in general, and particularly for policy toward the Social Economy; the lack of knowledge about Social Economy by the society in general. Social Economy is not a concept included in the current dominant paradigm; the lack of policy intention; weaknesses of the sector itself, in regard to the division of the sector, not taking advantage of synergies that can be produced in the joint action.

Finally, for the last question it is concluded that in practice the political change is not evident, given that the existing building policies remain the same as they were before the year of inflection considered. Furthermore, the economic resources have not been increases. In addition, the conception of the Social Economy by policy makers continues to be linked to employment and employability, being not collected in the new legal texts.


KINGDON, J. W. (2011). Agendas, alternatives and public policies (updated second edition ed.). Boston: Longman.

SABATIER, P. A. (2009). Theories of the policy process. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

SABATIER, P. A., & JENKINS-SMITH, H. C. (1999). The advocacy coalition framework: An assessment. In P. A. Sabatier (Ed.), Theories of the policy process (pp. 117-165). Boulder: Westview.


Teresa Savall Morera is BA in Economics, Master in Social Economy and Ph.D. in Social Economy by the University of Valencia. She carried out her research at the Research Institute for Social Economy (Instituto de Investigación en Economía Social, IUDESCOOP). She was a recipient of a predoctoral fellowship awarded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

She has published in academic journals, like REVESCO, and chapters in books, co-authored with professors Rafael Chaves and Jose Luis Monzon.

You can contact her at


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