In response to the rise of inequalities, both between social groups and territories within Europe since the crisis of 2008, social enterprises (SEs) have been highlighted as a promising solution to drive a more inclusive development. This project focuses on the potential of a subtype of social enterprises, i.e. Community Based Social Enterprises (CBSE) to be drivers of innovative strategies that foster inclusive development processes in structurally weak rural areas.
Following the principles of the Social and Solidarity Economy, CBSEs are characterised by combining economic and social dimensions and by their participatory and democratic nature. Moreover, they are organisations that operate in a defined geographical location, usually engaging a wide range of stakeholders within the community at the same time networking with actors and institutions that transcend it. These characteristics position CBSE as interesting organisations that have the potential to drive social innovations, i.e. new processes, services and/or products, that improve the access to resources and meet the unsatisfied needs of vulnerable groups; promote more active and equal social relations within different social groups of a community and; enhance the socioeconomic and political connections of disadvantage rural areas.
This research aims to analyse this potential through case studies conducted in different structurally weak European rural areas. The cases will be built from a combination of secondary data (statistics and reports) and, qualitative primary data (interviews and participant observation) from different stakeholders to catch a pluralistic view of the phenomenon studied.
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