Social enterprise – a new phenomenon in the field of economic and social welfare?

Sepulveda, Leandro ORCID logoORCID: (2015) Social enterprise – a new phenomenon in the field of economic and social welfare? Social Policy and Administration, 49 (7) . pp. 842-861. ISSN 0144-5596 [Article] (doi:10.1111/spol.12106)

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Drawing upon insights from historical institutionalism, this article critically examines the origins of social enterprise and its emergence into the mainstream policy arena. It begins by relating the social enterprise idea to major non-state/non-private institutional traditions, including the European social economy, US non-profits and the UK charitable sector, and places it within the specific field of economic and social welfare. In so doing, the article contests the idea that social enterprise is a new phenomenon in the social welfare field and proposes instead that the supposed ‘novelty’ of social enterprise as an organizational form and a subject of public policy lies primarily in the nature of the socio-political and economic context of the 1980s–1990s, during which time it became ‘en vogue’. The process of institutionalization of social enterprise and its ascension into the mainstream policy arena is examined in more detail in the case of England during the time New Labour was in office and beyond, and lessons are drawn from this experience concerning both the role that social enterprise plays or is expected to play as a vehicle to address economic and social needs, and how this is intertwined with both a dominant neo-liberal discourse, as well as alternative perspectives that emphasize more equalitarian and sustainable development paths. The article concludes with some reflections in relation to the apparent consensus that seems to exist around social enterprise as a legitimate subject of public policy and the resulting social enterprization of public services which is currently taking place in England.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article first published online: 25 NOV 2014
Keywords (uncontrolled): Social enterprise;Economic and social welfare;England;Public policy;Historical institutionalism
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR)
Item ID: 15950
Notes on copyright: © 2014 The Authors. Social Policy & Administration published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Depositing User: Pamela Macaulay
Date Deposited: 13 May 2015 14:40
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 10:45

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