Ep. 01 – The Archeology of Social Entrepreneurship


Social entrepreneurship is a relatively new term, but the practice itself has century-old roots. In this episode, we explore those roots within the larger field of European social economy.

This is the first episode of our 6-episode series. Enjoy!

To understand social entrepreneurship in Europe today, we have to look back at the alternative economic actors that appeared hand in hand with mass capitalism, trying to promote democracy and equity in the economy. The cooperative movement is a fundamental part of this history, which starts in XVIII century England with the Industrial Revolution.

With the participation of:

Jennifer Mabbot, manager of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum

Laurent Gardin, researcher at the Valenciennes University in France and member of EMES (a European research network on social enterprise and the third sector)

Elisa Terrasi, development officer at CICOPA (the International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers’ Cooperatives)

the members of the se.lab team

That chronicle about money? The author is Floor Basten and here is the text.

LINKS, REFERENCES, FURTHER DISCOVERIES

Fruta Feia (Portuguese consumers’ cooperative selling ugly fruits and vegetables)

Defourny, Jacques and Nyssens, Marthe (2010) “Conceptions of Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurship in Europe and the United States: Convergences and Divergences”, Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 1: 1, 32 – 53.

Video: Together – How Cooperatives Show Resilience to the Crisis

The Seven Cooperative Principles according to the International Co-operative Alliance (based on the Rochdale Principles of 1844)

(The Rochdale pioneers were innovators, but the moment was also ripe for that kind of innovation. Robert Owen, who is considered to be the father of the cooperative movement, had by then implemented his social welfare ideas in the cotton mills he owned and managed. An early utopian socialist, he designed a model for self-sustainable communities. He went to America where he started experimental communities of the sort, with little success. His ideas were picked up by a physician named William King, who in 1828 started a newspaper, the Co-operator. The Rochdale initiative was fed by the ideas that paper helped to spread.)

The Mondragon Corporation

Richard Wolff, “Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way”, The Guardian 24 June 2014