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The politics of narrating social entrepreneurship

Pascal Dey (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Windisch, Switzerland)
Chris Steyaert (University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 30 March 2010




Responding to recent pleas both to critically analyze and to conceptually advance social entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the political “unconscious” operates in the narration of social entrepreneurship and how it poses a limit to alternative forms of thinking and talking.


To move the field beyond a predominantly monological way of narrating, various genres of narrating social entrepreneurship are identified, critically discussed and illustrated against the backdrop of development aid.


The paper identifies and distinguishes between a grand narrative that incorporates a messianistic script of harmonious social change, counter‐narratives that render visible the intertextual relations that interpellate the grand narration of social entrepreneurship and little narratives that probe novel territories by investigating the paradoxes and ambivalences of the social.

Practical implications

The paper suggests a minor understanding and non‐heroic practice of social entrepreneurship guided by the idea of “messianism without a messiah.”


The paper suggests critical reflexivity as a way to analyze and multiply the circulating narrations of social entrepreneurship.



Dey, P. and Steyaert, C. (2010), "The politics of narrating social entrepreneurship", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 85-108.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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