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Social economy and the fourth sector, base and protagonist of social innovation


  • Julio Jiménez Escobar

    () (ETEA - Universidad de Córdoba)

  • Alfonso Carlos Morales Gutiérrez

    () (ETEA - Universidad de Córdoba)


The regeneration of the current economic system demands a new kind of innovation whose patterns and participants differ from the purely technological paradigm. Thus has social innovation arisen from different political and academic spheres as a phenomenon connected in a myriad of ways to the positions postulated in the organizational and business models that form the social economy. The aim of this paper is to explain these connections and potentials by defining a new protagonist in the socioeconomic sphere, the so-called "fourth sector". This is a new group of organizations and business models that is growing and adapting at an intersection between the public, private and social sectors, and that is being called upon to lead the new processes of social innovation. Their practices cross traditional sector boundaries and create new social relationships among stakeholders in order to develop innovative activities to meet social and / or environmental needs.

Suggested Citation

  • Julio Jiménez Escobar & Alfonso Carlos Morales Gutiérrez, 2011. "Social economy and the fourth sector, base and protagonist of social innovation," CIRIEC-España, revista de economía pública, social y cooperativa, CIRIEC-España, issue 73, pages 33-60, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cic:revcir:y:2011:i:73:p:33-60

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rafael Chaves, 1999. "La economía social como enfoque metodológico, como objeto de estudio y como disciplina científica," CIRIEC-España, revista de economía pública, social y cooperativa, CIRIEC-España, issue 33, pages 115-139, December.
    2. David Urbano & Nuria Toledano & Domingo Ribeiro Soriano, 2010. "Analyzing Social Entrepreneurship from an Institutional Perspective: Evidence from Spain," Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 54-69, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:643-:d:96185 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Julio Jiménez Escobar, 2013. "Nuevas realidades en el tercer sector: las aportaciones jurídico-organizativas de las fundaciones cívicas
      [New realities in the third sector: the legal and organisational contributions of community
      ," REVESCO: Revista de estudios cooperativos, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Escuela de Estudios Cooperativos, issue 110, pages 163-191.

    More about this item


    Fourth sector; third sector; social economy; social innovation; social enterprises; community foundations; peer to peer charities; e-social banking.;

    JEL classification:

    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General
    • P13 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Cooperative Enterprises


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