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The role of social enterprises in shaping social bonds

Marek Rymsza (Institute of Applied Social Sciences, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 14 September 2015



The purpose of this paper is to analyse the role of social enterprises in building social capital and strengthening social bonds.


The analysis is based on the comparative method. The author compares the development of social entrepreneurship of the “old” social economy (born on the turn of nineteenth and twentieth centuries), and of the “new” social economy (developing on the turn of twentieth and twenty-first centuries); and the functioning of social enterprises of two kinds: work integration social enterprises (WISEs) and community-based social enterprises (CBSEs). Moreover, he distinguishes between economic and social re-integration; and reciprocity and vertical inclusion.


The paper presents WISEs and CBSEs as tools of two different activation programmes: WISEs improve the employability of individuals who are marginalized in the labour market, while CBSEs serve as vehicles for the socio-economic development of the marginalized communities and territories. Furthermore, the author clarifies two methods of inclusion: through strengthening horizontal social ties (realized mainly by CBSEs, with their mutuality principle as a basis for building relations between participants) and building vertical social bonds (mainly by WISEs, based on the “inclusion of excluded” formula).

Research limitations/implications

The paper stresses the importance of focusing research into social entrepreneurship on the role of social enterprises in shaping social bonds as well as using and producing of social capital of two main types: bonding and bridging.

Practical implications

Recommendations for managing social enterprises as hybrid entities. The author argues that the most effective approach (in producing social value-added) is to combine the formula of the re-integration of individuals excluded from the labour market with the efforts to develop the whole local communities from marginalized territories.


The author uses sociological perspectives in analysing economic entities and activation policies.



Rymsza, M. (2015), "The role of social enterprises in shaping social bonds", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 42 No. 9, pp. 830-840.



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