CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1 This first issue of the second centenary of the Revue internationale de l’économie sociale (RECMA) (International Review of the Social Economy) is published at a particularly eventful time. Numerous events of a national and international nature have been held in association with RECMA in Bordeaux, Marseille, Toulouse, Grenoble, Lyon, Nanterre, Paris, Reims, and Lille, all on the initiative of universities and research centers and in partnership with numerous cooperative, associative, and social and solidarity economy federations.

2 We would like to say thank you to Danièle Demoustier, who coordinated the program on behalf of RECMA, and to all those who led or participated in events and who have reported on them in this issue.

3 The ESS France congress also took place during the last quarter. We believe that it is now the right time to proclaim what has been called a “Republic of the SSE,” a common and public vision of the SSE. A number of fresh initiatives on the SSE are being seen around the world: the UNDP has launched a call for the drafting of an SSE charter in Algeria; the European Commission has set out its own plan for the social economy; and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the oldest and most representative international federation of SSE enterprises, has recently held its congress in Seoul.

4 Mirroring this activity, the numerous reviews in this issue testify to the wealth of publications on the social economy and their dynamism.

Acceleration of the history of the SSE

5 Most of issue 363 is dedicated to six in-depth articles. Several of them deal with new subjects—SCICs in agriculture in France and a social supermarket in Sweden, for example—which illustrate an acceleration of the history of the SSE.

6 In “The Commons Society: What (R)evolutions for the SSE?” Hervé Defalvard looks at the “commons society,” a concept that encompasses the social and solidarity economy and is believed by the author to offer a new alternative to capitalism. He argues that the “SSE in the commons” offers a new manner of regulating territories that could result in a “formal subsumption of capitalism.” Of course, this radical change is still only felt on the margins of capitalism, but the author shows how the SSE in the commons may bring about a significant “revolutionary evolution.”

7 Bertrand Valiorgue, Émilie Bourlier-Bargues, and Xavier Hollandts study the conditions under which large agricultural cooperatives have evolved in an article entitled “What Resources and Skills Are Needed to Successfully Implement an Agricultural Cooperative’s Diversification Strategy?” The authors distinguish various types of diversification and examine their effects, particularly at the level of cooperative governance. They emphasize that it is not enough just to diversify activities; attention must also be paid to management processes and good organizational patterns.

8 The other end of the spectrum of innovations in agricultural cooperation is studied in “SCICs’ Responses to Emerging Agricultural Issues” by Natalia Suarez, Pierre Triboulet, Charlène Arnaud, and Pascale Château Terrisse. Their contribution is worthy of note as it is the first inventory of SCICs in this field. The authors also show the shift that this status allows in the complicated interplay of agricultural activity—with its professional organizations and specific public policies—and local territorial issues.

9 Tariq Laajini and Hicham Jekki publish a fascinating article entitled “Cooperatives in Essaouira: What Territorial Contribution?” In their presentation of cooperatives’ economic and social functions and production, the authors underline the “positive feedback loop” generated by cooperatives in the territory. They show the importance of the mobilization of resources, stakeholders, and their organization. They also highlight the limits and obstacles to cooperative development, noting in particular the limited effects on the daily lives of women.

10 Yacine Boukhris-Ferré presents the social and solidarity supermarket Matmissionen in Stockholm, a new player in the fight against poverty and unemployment in Sweden. This case is a testimony to the new collaboration between profit-seeking companies, associations, and state policies in order to tackle social problems and the costs they represent for society. It is a captivating study that sheds light on the strengths and contradictions of such initiatives, which are starting to crop up in other Swedish cities and in many countries throughout Europe.

11 In “From Workshop Democracy to the Democratic Workshop: A Historical Sketch of Production Cooperation in Great Britain,” François Deblangy lifts the lid on a little-known history in a country where consumer cooperatives have always played the leading role. His contribution also gives us an insight into the differences between the British and French traditions of cooperation.

RECMA: A growing field

12 Written by doctoral students and recognized researchers, the six articles focus on both theory and practice in the social economy, and cover experiences in Morocco, Sweden, Great Britain, and France. This diversity provides a good indication of RECMA’s identity in January 2022. This identity is currently being challenged by an acceleration of history that affects our societies in all their dimensions. The dramatic and outrageous increase in inequalities, which has become even more pronounced since the beginning of the pandemic, [1] on the one hand, and the worsening of climate change and the reduction of ecological diversity, [2] on the other, are transforming the role and objectives of the SSE and are prompting RECMA to widen its scope. Although people such as Jacques Moreau asserted as early as the 1980s that the SSE should address not only its activists but the whole of society, [3] up until quite recently, RECMA’s focus was very clearly directed at SSE organizations. [4] Today, it seems obvious that the SSE must incorporate ecological and social issues in all their complexity. The capitalist economy’s vain attempts to help the poor and save the world [5] force the SSE to think and act on a global scale, to create a comprehensive discourse, and, ultimately, to develop a wide-ranging economic and social theory. Paradoxically, the practical emergency we are faced with requires in-depth and transdisciplinary thinking, in a context in which academic disciplines are increasingly segmented and too often lack a global and coherent analysis. The theoretical effort and the historical perspective necessary to produce this global analysis are commensurate with the magnitude of the problems we face.

13 It is customary for departing editors-in-chief to offer an opinion when they hand over the reins. I would say that the purpose of RECMA must be to stimulate and report on the debates among the contrasting conceptions, both general and more specific, coming from the different currents and components of the SSE, in all academic fields and disciplines. [6] The SSE gains ground every time its conceptions are placed at the heart of the debate, and it loses ground every time the debate ignores them. RECMA’s main challenge is thus to ensure that the SSE sets the agenda for political and social debates.

14 In the editorial of the January 1997 issue of RECMA, number 263, I wrote that, while giving new directions, I would follow in the footsteps of my predecessors. I can conclude the editorial of the January 2022 issue, number 363, by saying that this continuity was not an obstacle to change but rather facilitated it. An aphorism by Saint-Simon that Henri Desroche liked to quote points out, “our children will think they have imagination, but they will only have reminiscences.” [7]


  • [1]
    Oxfam, Inequality Kills, January 2022; Thomas Piketty, Lucas Chancel, Gabriel Zucman, and Emmanuel Saez, World Inequality Lab 2022, December 2021.
  • [2]
    IPCC, 6th Assessment Report, August 9, 2021.
  • [3]
    André Chomel and Nicole Alix, eds., Pour une économie sociale sans rivages: Hommage à Jacques Moreau (1924-2004) (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005).
  • [4]
    André Chomel, Coopération et économie sociale au “second” XXème siècle: Claude Vienney (1929-2001) (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2002).
  • [5]
    Jean-François Draperi, Ruses de riches: Pourquoi les riches veulent maintenant aider les pauvres et sauver le monde (Paris: Payot, 2020).
  • [6]
    That is to say: history, geography, economics, management, technical sciences, sociology, psychology, political science, philosophy, and, without a doubt, also praxeology.
  • [7]
    Henri Desroche, Solidarités ouvrières (1): Sociétaires et compagnons dans les associations coopératives, 1831-1900 (Paris: Editions Ouvrières, 1981).
Jean-François Draperi
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