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Social entrepreneurship: critique and the radical enactment of the social

Pascal Dey (Institute for Business Ethics, University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)
Chris Steyaert (Research Institute for Organizational Psychology, University of St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 10 August 2012




This paper seeks to pinpoint the importance of critical research that gets to problematise social entrepreneurship's self‐evidences, myths, and political truth‐effects, thus creating space for novel and more radical enactments.


A typology mapping four types of critical research gets developed. Each critique's merits and limitations are illustrated through existing research. Also, the contours of a fifth form of critique get delineated which aims at radicalising social entrepreneurship through interventionist research.


The typology presented entails myth‐busting (problematisation through empirical facts), critique of power‐effects (problematisation through denormalising discourses, ideologies, symbols), normative critique (problematisation through moral reflection), and critique of transgression (problematisation through practitioners' counter‐conducts).

Research limitations/implications

The paper makes it clear that the critique of social entrepreneurship must not be judged according to what it says but to whether it creates the conditions for novel articulations and enactments of social entrepreneurship.

Practical implications

It is argued that practitioners' perspectives and viewpoints are indispensible for challenging and extending scientific doxa. It is further suggested that prospective critical research must render practitioners' perspective an even stronger focus.


The contribution is the first of its kind which maps critical activities in the field of social entrepreneurship, and which indicates how the more radical possibilities of social entrepreneurship can be fostered through interventionist research.



Dey, P. and Steyaert, C. (2012), "Social entrepreneurship: critique and the radical enactment of the social", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 90-107.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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