The Rise of Social Cooperatives in Italy
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This paper reports how a new model of social enterprise—the social cooperative (SCs)—has become instrumental, in the Italian context, in the expansion of the social economy. It underlines the contribution these associations have made toward broadening the concept and standard parameters of volunteer organizations, providing basic social welfare services, and integrating the disadvantaged into the mainstream of society. The paper focuses on some SCs organizational aspects, highlighting the many traditional and advantageous business features, the ease with which they have access to financial instruments, and their ability to activate wider social projects. Given their recent spreading in Italy, where the Third Sector is less developed than in other Western countries, SCs incorporate working modalities that could also be of interest and relevance to other countries. To adopt this type of organization, however, calls for adequate competencies and protection under specific laws because they are, on the whole, still small-sized and somewhat fragile.
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