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Can the social sector of the economy in Mexico converge on the concept of social economy?

Paper presented at the 5th Centre of Research and Information on the Public, Social and Cooperative Economy (CIRIEC) International Research Conference on Social Economy Social Economy in a Globalized World.

Carola Conde Bonfil, 2015

To download : PDF (310 KiB)

Summary :

In Mexico, the term most commonly used to refer to activities and organizations that are not public or private is the social sector of the economy but the Law of Social and Solidarity Economy (LESS for its acronym in Spanish) does not define it (only listed the legal figures that compose it). In contrast, in the world is increasingly more frequent the concept of social economy, which has several definitions and criteria that organizations must meet to be considered part of it.

The problem is not semantic and has academic and public policy consequences. Therefore, this paper is intended to review the characteristics of each of the types of organizations that integrate the social sector of the economy in Mexico and compare them with the criteria of the International Comparative Social Enterprise Models (Icsem)’ concept of social economy to establish their similarities and possibilities of convergence.

Additionally, in practice, in each legal figure there are organizations with different degrees of compliance of such criteria, for that reason a valuation exercise was conducted with four levels of qualification: 0, if the criterion is not present in that type of organization and 1 to 3, depending on whether some, many or all organizations of a certain type have that feature.

This exercise yielded an overall score for each legal figure and some conclusions about the possibility of convergence with the concept of social economy. Later, we decided to transform this numerical exercise into a qualitative version in which we retain only the extreme cases (0- 3) to determine the absence or presence of each indicator and get a more defined picture about these figures.

Our conclusion is that not all types of organisms recognized by the LESS are actually forms of social economy while others not included in this or in the Catalogue of organism of the social sector of the economy (Cosse) are closer to the characteristics of social enterprise.

Therefore, the convergence between the concepts of social sector of the economy and social economy is feasible only if government entities change the vision sustained in the legal figures and define the specific characteristics that must meet the social enterprises.