Our understanding of the relationship between globalization and contemporary social welfare systems is heavily influenced by three conventional approaches to studying welfare reform: the political economy, moral economy, and mixed economy approaches. In addition to analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each of these approaches, a central aim of this article is to introduce the social economy approach as an emergent alternative. Drawing from a growing body of work on institutional innovation within the European third sector, I argue that the social economy approach makes a valuable contribution to understanding the role of welfare networks in reconfiguring globalizations' impact on the character and quality of social provision so as to better reconcile social efficacy with social justice.