Introduction to an International Evaluation
R., Defourny, J., Favreau, L. and Laville, J.-L. (eds), Tackling social exclusion in Europe. The contribution of the social economy. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2001
The main purpose of this work, undertaken by around 15 researchers over a four-year period, was to record on a comparative, international basis (using a sample of nine countries) the new responses of the voluntary organisations and the co-operative movement to the crisis in employment and the welfare state, starting from an approach to employability in which voluntary sector and co-operative projects have multiplied over the last two decades: the social and occupational integration of people excluded from the traditional routes into employment.
However, our approach has not been governed by the question of integration through work alone. This area was chosen, on the contrary, as illustrative of the new generation of voluntary organisations and co¬operatives, an area that would expose the problems faced by society as a whole and raise questions regarding enterprises within the social economy as a whole. This is why, after outlining the challenges posed by unemployment and the increase of exclusion, and sketching the main public policies aimed at people who have the greatest difficulties in integrating into society, we will set these circumstances in the context of the social economy. In this way we intend not merely to set the scene but to present the whole framework of considerations which form the context of our analysis.