Social and Solidarity Economy

The Lyon urban area is the birthplace of consumer cooperatives, and to this day it stands out for the many dynamic and innovative Social and Solidarity Economy initiatives that it fosters, in highly varied sectors. In its 2008-2013 mandate plan, Greater Lyon proposes supporting the Social and Solidarity Economy as an essential component of the local area’s economic development.

Social and Solidarity Economy: social commitment with economic initiative

The Social and Solidarity Economy combines social commitment with economic initiative to place people at the center of business and put the economy back where it belongs: economic activities are a way of serving a societal project. The Social and Solidarity Economy is based on a philosophy consisting of:

  • thinking and acting differently in society
  • giving meaning to entrepreneurship

The Social and Solidarity Economy is different in the way it perceives entrepreneurship, not in the business segments it encompasses. It is an economic player in its own right, a means of developing the local economy, recognized by local governments and other economic and political entities.

The Legal Forms of the Social and Solidarity Economy

The Social and Solidarity Economy encompasses three types of structures:

  • cooperatives: user cooperatives, corporate cooperatives, production cooperatives (SCOP), banking cooperatives, public-interest cooperatives (SCIC), low-income housing cooperatives;
  • mutual companies: health insurance and provident funds, mutual insurance companies, social-initiative mutual firms;
  • associations

The values of the Social and Solidarity Economy

The Social and Solidarity Economy is based on values that arise directly from its aims:

  • partnering and getting along together through collective initiative, the spirit of cooperation and civic responsibility
  • associating the principles of internal and external solidarity with the economic principles of production and exchange
  • the service rendered taking precedence over profits
  • meeting societal needs and aspirations in a given area

Examples of principles

Democratic governance

Democratic governance, with elected leaders, collective decision-making bodies based on the principle of “one person = one vote”.

The companies in the Social and Solidarity Economy are managed democratically, as they apply the principle of “one person, one vote” according to which their members have the same voting rights at annual meetings, regardless of the contribution they make to the company: contributing capital in a cooperative or a mutual company, or contributing time to an association.

Social concerns trump capital

The organizations in the Social and Solidarity Economy are groups of people, rather than of capital. They comprise members and associates who are interdependent and have equal rights and duties. These people, who group together in an interdependent manner around a common interest, promote democratic modes of governance and invent innovative forms of collective entrepreneurship.

The people and the common interest (the social project) of these organizations are at the heart of the business, and take precedence over the search for profit and capital surpluses.

A few references

Regional Chamber of the Economy of Social Justice and Solidarity in Rhône-Alpes

For more information about the Economy of Social Justice and Solidarity, visit the website of the Regional Chamber of the Economy of Social Justice and Solidarity in Rhône-Alpes.

Rhône Solidaires

www.rhone-solidaires.org is a website containing practical information for bodies involved in the economy of social justice and solidarity in the Rhône area: associations, cooperatives, mutual insurance companies and foundations.

the Fresque Lumière mural

The Fresque Lumière mural by François Schuiten, SCOP Cité Création © François Schuiten, SCOP Cité Création - Union Régionale des Entreprises Coopératives

Contacts