by Jayne Glass
Although the EU is one of the richest areas in the world, 17% of EU citizens have very limited financial resources and unemployment stands at around 10%. Recognising the negative impacts deprivation can have on people’s ability to engage fully in society, 2010 is ‘European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion’. EU leaders are finalising a new 10-year strategy to tackle issues ranging from the fragmentation of families to the difficulties faced by people with disabilities when looking for work. One solution for tackling social exclusion lies in the setting up of more ‘social enterprises’; businesses that trade for social and environmental purposes.
Research in Area by Sarah-Anne Muñoz suggests that geographers have the opportunity to engage with social enterprise research, using their skills to fill gaps in knowledge about social enterprise in the UK. By mapping the spatial distribution of social enterprises and exploring the reasons for their locations, those responsible for reducing social exclusion would have a richer understanding of the sector’s development, successes and failures. Linking social enterprise to theories of space and place would also generate research that could explore the role of social enterprise in the creation of new economic and empowerment spaces.
Read The Guardian article ‘EU must act now to reduce poverty’ (30 April 2010)