Social cooperatives exist to provide social services such as the care of children, elderly and disabled people, and the integration of unemployed people into the workforce. The phenomenon is most developed in Italy, but exists in various forms in many countries. In countries such as Sweden and Britain they exist without any special legislation, while elements of the Italian model have been legislated for in Belgium (société à finalité sociale / venootschap met sociaal oogmerk) and Poland.

An Italian social cooperative is a particularly successful form of multi-stakeholder cooperative, of which over 11,000 exist.[1] A "type A" social cooperative brings together providers and beneficiaries of a social service as members. A "type B" social cooperative brings together permanent workers and previously unemployed people who wish to integrate into the labour market.

Social co-operatives are legally defined as follows:

See also


  1. ^ In 2011 the official total was 11,264: ISTAT, 9° Censimento dell’industria e dei servizi (Roma, 2011)