Social and Solidarity Economy

Scale level :

Synonym(s) : SSE

Definition :

Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) groups together economic activities of social utility. According to the law of July 31, 2014, an activity belongs to SSE if it fulfils at least one of the following objectives: support to people in situation of fragility, fight against inequalities, contribution to Sustainable Development. The SSE is also characterized by its mobilized operating principles and resources.

The operating principles are part of the Charter of Social Economy of 1980 specifying:

  • That the purpose of the provided service is prioritized over profit making
  • Governance by members at general meetings – 1 person, 1 vote
  • The primacy of the person and the corporate object over the capital held: profits are primarily invested rather than distributed.

The mobilized resources integrate reciprocal exchange principles (“gift-for-donation” between stakeholders) and non-market exchanges (volunteering), in addition to market exchanges of goods and services.

Some statuses (cooperative, mutual, associative and foundation) are specific to SSE bases. More and more activities realized by actors with various statuses are part of SSE, since commercial companies have a specific certification such as B corp, adopted for example by Nature & Découverte.

Examples of actors Status
Biocoop (distributor of organic products) Cooperative
La Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA) Mutual fund
AMAP network (Associations for the support of a country agriculture) Association
Nina et Danielle Carasso Foundation Foundation

Table 1 : Examples of actors belonging at the SSE

SSE is the glue of many social innovations such as solidarity finance (for example ‘La Nef’ cooperative, ‘Finansol’ or ‘Caisse solidaire’ associations) or the so-called ‘very social’ housing. It promotes the integration of solidarity between generations, territories and links in the supply chains. Fair trade (for example, the brands ‘Ethiquable’, ‘Alter-Eco’ or ‘Artisans du monde’) is a form of SSE. Short circuits, through the tightening of links between production and consumption, are also the expression of SSE to which is often added an agroecological dimension.

Published on 10 February 2020

Bibliographic references :

Utting P. 2013. What is Social and Solidarity Economy and why does it matter ? : web page.

To quote this definition or part of it :
Guillaume Bouchard, Sarah Petreault, Justine Chazalviel, Marie-Benoît Magrini. 2020. Social and Solidarity Economy : Definition. Dictionnaire d'Agroecologie,

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