Research Introduction

This CURA—Social Business and Marginalized Social Groups—is a joint research of the Social Economy Centre of the University of Toronto, the Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op), the Centre for Social Innovation, and the Toronto Enterprise Fund, and made up of a network of researchers and community partners, primarily from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The research builds upon a research alliance created under SSHRC’s Social Economy Suite (ending in December 2011) that is managed through the Social Economy Centre and funds about 35 projects. That grant is on the many manifestations of the social economy (Quarter, Mook, & Armstrong, 2009), not specifically on social businesses. However, this research builds upon the component of that project that mapped social enterprises and co-operatives in Ontario (see Dart & Armstrong, 2009; Hall, Lasby, Ventry & Guy, forthcoming). Social business may be viewed as one part of the social economy, an approach that has become timely in view of the current recession, which it is estimated will throw about 20 million worldwide into poverty (ILO, 2008). Social business is not presented here as the solution, but only as one strategy that is being applied to persons living on the social margins. One objective of this research is to determine how effective this strategy is.


The Detailed Description (attached) is organized as follows: a) a conceptualization of social business; b) an analysis of poverty and social marginalization with a focus on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA); c) the proposed research program in four stages – formation, case studies, survey, and knowledge mobilization; d) the contribution of the proposed research to knowledge mobilization.



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