The social economy and community action contribute to modifying the factors provoking poverty and exclusion, but on their own they are not sufficient to counter them.
However, in combination with the public and private economy, they can form the basis of a pluralistic development strategy likely to increase the wealth of local collectivities. This is the conclusion shown by our in-depth analysis of a set of ten case studies of local initiatives for fighting poverty and exclusion, carried out in three different regions of Quebec (Montreal, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Bas-Saint-Laurent).
Social economy and community action count as ways of increasing local collectivities' capacity for action.
According to our analysis, the success of this type of initiative depends on: 1) the emergence of a strong individual, organizational and territorial leadership, recognized by local actors and regional and national representatives; 2) the capacity of leaders and local actors to implement and coordinate several types de project and mobilize social, government and market resources; 3) the existence of a process for reaching lasting consensus, which may be constantly renewed between the various actors; 4) the creative use of public programs to ensure that the resources obtained increase the welfare of the collectivity; and 5) the construction of positive identities which lead the socioeconomic players to launch partnership-based projects, and the citizens to take part in them.
It is therefore important to think of the social economy and community action as ways of increasing local collectivities' capacity for action. They must be seen as a basis for the creation and incubation of initiatives and as components of a socio-territorial capital that can be valorized in partnership with the government and private enterprise, rather than as a means for reducing State participation or a way of releasing the government from its responsibility towards territory development. Our work indicates that the regional fight against poverty and exclusion must count on a strong State presence, but this presence must be flexible, adaptable to local realities and must encourage networking actions which will diversify the projects and combine the actors at various levels. Several types of factors contribute to poverty and exclusion: strategies for escaping from poverty must combine several types of actions.
Juan-Luis Klein, Université du Québec à Montréal
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Deposit of the research report: May 2009