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Research Spotlight: Jack Quarter

Social Economy

How does social economy improve our quality of life and address needs of marginalized social groups?

Social economy: A bridging concept for organizations that have social objectives central to their mission and their practice and either have explicit economic objectives or generate some economic value through the services they provide and purchases they undertake.

Jack Quarter’s research investigates the vital role of the social economy, in its many manifestations, within Canadian society and how the social economy contributes to our quality of life and addresses the needs of marginalized social groups.

How? He leads major research projects investigating issues that affect Canada’s social economy organizations. These projects will inform education policy and change how we value social economy organizations.

Social economy organizations include non-profits, cooperatives, and credit unions, for example: local hockey teams; swimming clubs; arts organizations; local theatre companies; fair trade distributors; and housing co-ops. According to Statistics Canada research, these organizations encompass about 7% of Canada’s gross domestic product, about $140 billion of revenues, a workforce of more than 2 million, roughly 2 billion hours of volunteer time, plus an estimated 150  million memberships.

The social economy is vital to drive Canada’s economy forward and ensure the well-being of our communities. To help tomorrow’s business leaders learn about the value of social economy, Jack and his colleagues recently published a book Understanding the Social Economy: A Canadian Perspective, with lesson plans for business professors. They also developed open source software VolunteersCount www.volunteerscount.net to help non-profit organizations develop social accounting statements that place a dollar value on volunteer contributions.

Jack’s research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Canada Foundation for Innovation. He is the author and editor of 16 books, 25 book chapters, and 80 articles in refereed journals.

Jack Quarter is a professor in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology and is co-director of the Social Economy Centre.

Jack's faculty profile (AECP)

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