4th International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC)
Third Sector Research Centre, Birmingham, 12-14 September 2012
Stream 2: Towards a Critical Understanding of Social Entrepreneurship
Pascal Dey (University of St Gallen) and Florentine Maier (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
“… everything has evolved, there are no eternal facts, nor are there any absolute truths.”
― F. Nietzsche (1986: 14)
Social entrepreneurship, conventionally celebrated as an innovative and pro-active approach for solving social problems, has increasingly become an object of critique. Indeed, in light of the boundless promise that social entrepreneurship will change the world on a shoestring, it has become imperative to look more closely and critically at what is casually said about social entrepreneurship.
We thus invite contributions that:
- look at how dominant accounts of social entrepreneurship (myths, discourses, narratives, ideologies, doxa) are produced (and by whom), and why it is so difficult to go beyond them (in that they keep pushing back at us; Gibson-Graham, 2006);
- use empirical research to expose the more paradoxical, ambivalent, and prosaic sides of social entrepreneurship which are conventionally left out of more pompous, celebratory representations (Dey & Steyaert, 2010), and show how practitioners speak out against authority (e.g. government representatives) to claim a space for their own truth (Parkinson & Howorth, 2008);
- dispense with the idea of social entrepreneurship research as distanced, objective endeavor, and instead see research as interventionist (and not “just” as representational; Steyaert, 2011). This might entail introducing participatory research practices to the prevailing stock of social entrepreneurship research, or action research which explicitly aims to co-produce novel realities;
- raise awareness of the ‘dark side’ of social entrepreneurship, for instance by emphasizing instances in which social enterprises failed (Vasi, 2009), or in which social enterprise policies turned out to restrict rather than enable the production of more just, equitable, and inclusive social spaces;
- call into question aspects of social entrepreneurship which have been taken for granted yet never empirically investigated or properly conceptualized; such as the notorious association of social entrepreneurship with large-scale and long-lasting structural change (Cukier et al., 2011), or it’s ostensible ability to harmonize the antagonisms inherent in economic and social logics and values (Bull, 2008);
- use typical as well as counter-intuitive “cases” of social entrepreneurship/entrepreneurs to probe the inside and outside of this master signifier (Boje & Smith, 2010), making it clear that its identity is not available to everyone (Jones & Spicer, 2009) while elaborating on how this programming of our collective imagination has become possible in the first place;
- counter-act the image of the individualistic, heroic social entrepreneur by bringing into play theoretical or empirical accounts which emphasize the relational, collective, interactive, spatial, or non-linear aspect of social innovation, change, and enterprising (e.g. Goldstein & Hazy, 2008);
- elaborate on the ethics of social entrepreneurship, for instance by reflecting on the sort of ethical yardstick that should be used in its evaluation, or the typical ideological dilemmas and challenges associated with its everyday practices (Zahra et al., 2009).
To be sure, a priori determining the boundaries of possible topics would risk excluding accounts which might prove helpful for the task at hand: turning social entrepreneurship into a (more) reflexive, critical, and inventive field of scholarly inquiry. In light of this, alternative topics are possible, even desired.
Abstract submissions for single papers and panel sessions should be sent directly to ISIRC@tsrc.ac.uk. See call for papers for more details.
Enquiries should be directed to the stream conveners: Pascal Dey (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Florentine Maier (email@example.com).
Full stream description (PDF, 18KB)