Social and Solidarity Economy, Urban Communities and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups

How can the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) effectively contribute to the integration of those left-behind by the declining social aid and create solidarity for these vulnerable groups?


Since 2008, the European Union has become synonymous with crises: the economic crisis, the Eurozone crisis, and finally the refugee crisis. As a result of the financial crises and ensuing cuts in social spending, European societies further witnessed the weakening of solidarity policies for the social protection of the unemployed native-born, the migrants, and the newly arrived refugees. At the same time a rise in xenophobia and populist politics that blamed migrants and refugees for the economic upheavals and the struggle of the local communities could be observed.

Against this background, this research project aims to examine how the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) can effectively contribute to building solidarity, protecting and integrating refugees, migrants, and the unemployed native-born within local communities and into labour markets, and what enabling policy environments are required. The potentials, challenges and tensions involved in this regard within a context of austerity and welfare retrenchment, growing xenophobia and populist politics will also be assessed.

The research aims at generating evidence and policy suggestions to maximize the potential of SSE actors to integrate refugees, migrants, and the unemployed native-born at local level, and to create spaces and relationships of solidarity in times of controversy. Three localities will be examined as case studies: Geneva (Switzerland), Bergamo (Italy), and Heraklion (Greece). Ultimately, the project’s comparative findings will inform scholarly and policy debates, by providing concrete recommendations on the SSE potential for addressing vulnerable groups in highly contentious times.


  • Social and solidarity economy
  • Vulnerable groups
  • Contextual Factors
  • European Localities
  • Migrants
  • Refugees
  • Unemployed


  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Sociology


International Organisations


Relevant Countries

  • Continent – Europe
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Switzerland


This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2017. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Marco Giugni
University of Geneva

Chiara Aurora Demaldè
Principal Member
University of Trento

Katia Pilati
Principal Member
Università degli studi di Trento

Annalisa Christini
Associated Member
Università degli studi di Bergamo

Maria Kousis
Associated Member
University of Crete

Ilcheong Yi
Associated Member
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

Florence Passy
University of Lausanne

Maria Mexi
University of Geneva

Ibrahim Saïd
Principal Member
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

Francesca Forno
Associated Member
University of Trento

Silvana Signori
Associated Member
Università degli studi di Bergamo