Comparative perspective of the third sector of social action in the Autonomous Communities

Proyecto PECOTSAS. Perspectiva comparada del tercer sector de acción social en las Comunidades Autónomas. Universidad de Alcalá


TSSA has experienced an accelerated process of growth. TSSA has gone from occupying a residual institutional position in the Spanish welfare system to occupying a more central one. It has been possible due to the configuration of a decentralized and mixed welfare system based on a triangular structure in welfare production (State, market and Third Sector) where TSSA has developed as a collaborator dependent on the social policies of the Welfare State in a relatively independent way in each region.

In this context of decentralization, however, most studies related to TSSA are carried out at state or uni- regional level. Comparative studies such as the one proposed in this project are scarce. It highlights the need to analyse the different trajectories followed in the regional institutionalization of TSSA. Therefore, the main objective of the project is to analyse the institutional and social embeddedness of the TSSA in the different regions and to explore the existence of differential factors in the TSSA between regions. This will allow to know if there are different "third sectors of social action" and to know to what extent it influences in different logics of intervention.

The research hypothesis of this project is that there has been a differential development of the TSSA in the Autonomous Communities influenced by economic-institutional factors (the type of predominant public-private financial collaboration, the role of fiscal incentives or the size of market in social services) and social factors such as social capital in the TSSA.


Among the specific aims of research proposal we highlight the analysis the social capital of TSSA focusing specifically on institutional and relational practices of TSSA with other social actors such as Public Administrations, companies, social movements and the solidarity-based economy. We will also analyse the economic-institutional, socio-cultural and socio- historical factors that have shaped the present institutional framework and social development of the TSSA. Finally, a comparative analysis of the TSSA in the regions will be carried out, establishing, as far as possible, different typologies of TSSA among Autonomous Communities.


The methodology of the research project is based on the combination of the analysis of primary (produced within the framework of the project) and secondary information sources. The project includes in-depth interviews and focus groups in seven Spanish regions such as Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia, Valencian Community, Madrid, Murcia and Basque Country. The research project team brings together researchers from different regions with knowledge of TSSA regional networks. It is also a multidisciplinary research project team bringing together experts in social economy, public and social policy analysis, third sector legislation and social capital.


The project outcomes can be useful both to policy makers and stakeholders (for the design of TSSA strategic plans, public policy design) and at the academic level (unprecedented comparative research in TSSA at the regional level, construction of theoretical models, deeper understanding of variables such as social capital and the relationship of the TSSA with solidarity-based economy).

We encourage academic experts and researchers, social managers, representatives of the regional and local public administration, professional organizations related to the TSSA and representatives of companies, social movements and the Solidarity and Alternative Economy to contact us if you want to collaborate on the project (see contact area).

Processing of personal data

The processing of personal data made in the framework of this project will be adjusted to the methodology described with the purpose of analyzing the economic-institutional, sociocultural and sociohistorical factors of the third sector of social action in the Autonomous Communities. In all the phases of the Project, as well as in the activities carried out for its execution, the national and community personal data protection regulations will be respected, offering the corresponding information on the specific treatment that is carried out and complying with the requirements necessary to to treat personal data in a legitimate and safe way, as foreseen in the Privacy Policy of the University of Alcalá

PECOTSAS is a project funded by the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. It is a three-year project (2018-2020).