This paper investigates the relationship between the emergence of social enterprises (SEs) and the historical development of the Italian welfare state. Our research offers a comprehensive overview of the internal and external influences that shaped the constitutive relations between the welfare state and SEs. A qualitative methodology based on semi-structured interviews and focus groups has been adopted. This study suggests that two interconnected dynamics—the emergence of new social needs being answered by private organisations and the increased prominence of third sector actors during the privatisation of the welfare state—shaped the co-evolution of the welfare state and SEs in Italy. The study also suggests that the emergence and evolution of Social Enterprises in the years leading up to 2001 was mainly a bottom-up phenomena stemming from the actions of citizens setting up private organisations (often cooperatives) to answer to social problems created by new social needs and the structural reform of the welfare state. After 2001 especially with the new law on SEs in 2016, the evolution of SEs seems to have been increasingly influenced by the surrounding ecosystem of actors and supranational policy discourses rather than SEs themselves.
VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations – Springer Journals
Published: May 9, 2017
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