Community-Based Social Economy – Social Capital and Civic Participation in Social Entrepreneurship and Community Development

Witold MANDRYSZ

Abstract


The purpose of this article is to draw attention to the importance of a strong relationship between social economy entities and their socio-institutional ecosystem. The article focuses on pointing out the importance of adequate diagnosis and the use of social capital existing in the community for the development and success of social economy initiatives. Draws attention to the importance of cooperation of these initiatives with local institutions, social organizations and representatives of local businesses as well as the level of their rooting in the minds of members of the community. The first part of the text referrers to the concept of co-production and Community-based social economy. The second part of the article presents the relation between the concept of social capital and community development and discusses the relation between the level of existing social capital in the given community and the possible development of the social economy entities operating there. The last part of the article presents practical examples of social economy entities operating in Poland, which are very often described as a ‘good practices’ of the practical implementation of different types of the idea of Social Economy. The conclusions underline that there is a need for strong rootedness and cooperation between social economy entities and the community in which it operates, based on shared values, aims and understanding of community needs and problems – building a specific space/position in the eco-system. This requires extensive relationships of social economy entities, both with individuals, public institutions and organizations operating in the local environment as well as with local values, norms, and traditions. To achieve such rootedness in case of entities that are usually established based on an external (usually institutional) decision with the strong financial support it seems to be necessary to use community work procedures as an implementation methodology. Due to the high degree of complexity of these types of projects and the need to mobilize large forces and resources, we may assume that the level of engagement of community members towards activities within a particular project usually determines its effectiveness.

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