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The Meaning of Development and Social Economy

Mario César Elgue

This study criticises the concept of strategic rationality. This concept parallels the rational behaviors with those that aim for maximum economic profit, through isolated actors who only pursue their own interests. The paradigm of communicative action is opposed to this vision, since it is more readily identifiable with the modus operandi of the enterprising spirit of the social economy, because it defines those actors from a holistic perspective and not just within the context of economic concepts. We advocate that society is a space for co-operation that is built upon shared definitions. Formal education, both explicit and implicit, that stems from specific aspects of economic activity is a fundamental input to this process. The activities, which are framed in the sub-system of social economy, are deployed through collective consensus, and, in this sense, are fundamental assets for social stability with equity in the distribution of wealth and power. The restructuring of the culture is highlighted as a very important requirement to reclaim the meaning of development. We talk about the crisis of the neoliberal "model" which held the hegemony in the 90s, and whose political proposal was a growth model stripped of inclusion and social justice mechanisms.

This taxonomy gives an all-embracing view of social economy, detached from the Anglo Saxon view that limits the Third Sector to the context of non-profit organisations that do not distribute surplus. Within this new vision, we understand social economy as a sub-system composed of two sub-sectors: non-entrepreneurial NGOs and the new caring entrepreneurs and the sector of companies of social economy.

We advocate a State which is present and active in the development of a balanced society, where the public sector, the capitalist private sector and the two sub-sectors of the social economy can co-exist. We demand situational strategic planning and a new generation of active public policies that put forward an integrated national model, that in turn become a regional association such as MERCOSUR, according to the challenges posed by the globalised world.

Finally, we develop the differences and semantic consensus around the concept of social economy, in turn proposing to link this theme to the new social movements, to a national project with sensible subjects and involved parties. Within that, the social economy is reassessed as a strategic tool for interaction among the economic sphere, the social context and the participatory democracy.

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