In Research


Year: 2023


Support structures for a plural economy in rural areas? Analysing the role of community-based social enterprises


Community-led innovative solutions, including community-based social enterprises, have been brought to the fore as significant actors with the potential to con- tribute to neo-endogenous rural development. Through 34 interviews with stakeholders of four community- based social enterprises operating in rural Ireland and Finland, we analyse the role of these organisations in the institutionalisation of plural (socio-)economic relations within different rural areas of Europe. Our findings demonstrate how community-based social enterprises can act as enablers and supporters of local markets, channels of redistributive resources and coordinators of local reciprocity, thus, contributing to ‘institutional thickness’ within their localities. We also show how structural differences, such as the role of local government in Finland and Ireland, can partially explain the role of these organisations as rural development actors. Finally, our article stresses the relevance of developing research and policies from a socially embedded and pluralistic view of the economy