Poverty and social exclusion are nowadays widely debated phenomena as they present highly threatening consequences for the wellbeing of humanity, making it unable to reach adequate living standards and to fully exercise social rights. To alleviate imbalances, adequate programs need to be put into place and for this process to be efficient, coherence and commitment must constitute elementary values to advance social welfare. Social enterprises can also contribute with their value creating potential to the fostering of a sustainable society that places a high emphasis on the defense of vulnerable groups and offers them an equitable treatment. The present paper firstly aims to illustrate conceptual elements referring to poverty, social exclusion and the social protection of marginalized groups. Secondly, the study is complemented by a research on Romanian social enterprises’ perspective (associations, foundations and sheltered units) concerning social threats and the defense of less favored individuals, undertaken through a questionnaire-based survey. The research unveils the social enterprises’ belief that the Romanian social field needs substantial attention from policymakers and that social protection services can aid them in gaining social privileges more adequately.
In the present context, defined by a variety of social changes, social advancement is a key point that needs to be sheltered and ensured both in Romania as well as at the level of the European Union, in order to have a coherent European space, to reach and maintain a high level of social and economic welfare. The improvement of the social domain can be triggered by using the principles of the European Social Model, which incorporates values and institutions specially established to protect the integrity of people who are socially disadvantaged. Thus, the paper aims, on one hand, to analyze literature review aspects of the European Social Model as being a social development one and to identify the criteria according to which progress is established in relationship with this model. On the other hand, another goal of the paper is to make a comparative analysis between Romania's performance in the context of Central and Eastern European countries' situation. The purpose of the analysis is to diagnose the progress recorded and the social area in which it took place, as well as the differences between countries. The focus of the analysis will be placed on poverty and social exclusion, as dimensions of the European Social Model. The methodology that will help in undertaking the research comprises two elements: literature review and document analysis. The literature review component involves pinpointing information obtained from scientific articles about the European Social Model and aspects associated with it, available in online databases. The second part of the methodology refers to document analysis, which supposes the assessment of reports issued by organizations that provide such statistical data (Eurostat, World Bank, Social Progress Imperative).