Abstract Tiers-lieux & Inclusion

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Often known by terms such as coworking spaces, fablabs, makerspaces, or hackerspaces, Third-places foster collaboration, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. They are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to create dynamic communities and stimulate economic growth,.

In France, Third-places have gained popularity in recent years. Created in various forms, they involve a wide range of dynamics, locations, projects, actors, and collectives. Between 3,000 and 3,500 Third-places have been registered as of 2022, showcasing the societal phenomenon that highlights the capacity of civil society to collaborate and organize in response to local needs.

The civil society is composed of businesses, associations, and citizens, plays an increasingly significant role in shaping public policies. The growth and intensification of this movement require a deeper reflection on the relationship between administrations and civil society, particularly in integrating corporate social responsibility practices to promote inclusion and strike a balance between social impact and generating income from private, public, and citizen sources.

Solutions exist to make these spaces more accessible and inclusive, such as creating scholarship programs for low-income individuals, adapting facilities for people with disabilities, and implementing policies to promote diversity and inclusion. By developing partnerships with institutional and private actors, Third-places will contribute to building more resilient and prosperous communities to address the various challenges faced by civil society transformations.

Facing digital transformation and the emergence of "next-generation" internet applications and usage, Third-places play an essential role in raising public awareness of societal and transformative issues related to the digital realm. They foster a progressive and inclusive approach in their operations, aligning with their partners' strategic inclusive digital practices.

To maintain sustainability and creativity, public subsidies should not be the sole source of funding; diversification of revenue streams is essential, and private income helps create favorable conditions for financial profitability. As key actors in societal transitions, innovation, and experimentation, Third-places have the potential to generate positive impacts for businesses, citizens, and the planet while creating financial value. Ultimately, they illustrate the ability of collective approaches to create hybrid and virtuous models.

In his article "De par le monde, quelles politiques publiques des tiers-lieux?" (Public Policies for Third-places Around the World), economist Marc LAGET precisely highlights the hybrid economic model of Third-places, which deploy non-market activities for collective utility in the domains of innovation, solidarity, and education. The robustness of this model depends on the recognition given by public authorities to the importance of non-market services for the community.

It also highlights following scenarios:

  1. In a liberal context, emphasis will be placed on the entrepreneurial aspect of Third-places, potentially at the expense of their social activities of collective utility, which may be encouraged as secondary.
  2. In a context favorable to the social and solidarity economy, Third-places can be supported:
    • Either as actors of the social and solidarity economy, benefiting from specific support for employment, training, and popular education,
    • Or as new entities recognized for their ability to lead progressive projects.

Third-places, supported by individuals and local actors, address essential challenges related to ecological, energy, digital, professional, health, and mobility transitions. They share the same objectives as national and European political authorities, pursuing an ecological, intelligent, inclusive, and participatory transition. Consequently, they can be seen as intermediaries of public policies.

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