A quick reading of certain periods of our history permits us to realise that activities that are socially exalted today had previously first been ‘hidden’, and later kept at the margins of society. The actions that we now call ‘economic’, allotted in the earliest times to subsistence and performed, at a later time, with a view to self-interest and to maximise gain, today undisputed and indisputable, have been scorned: they were considered as private, we know, and thus kept aloof from the public place by the Greeks. Consequently, on the European continent we will witness the emergence of the ‘social’, considered necessary to allow for the passage from the ‘private’ to the ‘public’, as well as for taking account of populations excluded from the production of private wealth.