In today’s “market society” almost every aspect of the everyday lives is shaped by market forces. In this essay, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the potential role of social enterprise as one means of re-embedding the economy into society to ensure the economy works for people, rather than the other way around.
This is primarily a conceptual paper: a provocation.
The authors argue that to work as an embedding force, social enterprise needs to ensure both reciprocity and market exchange while acting in a way that attempts to compensate for the retreat of the state through providing public services and promoting collective decision-making and public deliberation.
Drawing upon the work of Karl Polanyi to conceptualise social enterprise as an “alternative” economic actor within a plural economic system, the authors contribute to on-going debates about social enterprise as an alternative way of organising markets and society. The authors highlight the challenges involved in achieving such a vision and suggest ways these might be overcome.
The authors wish to acknowledge the comments received on an earlier version of this paper from participants at the EGOS (European Group for Organization Studies) colloquium in Edinburgh, July 2019. Particular thanks to Dr Florentine Maier for her generous feedback at the session “When Civil Society Re-enchants the World: Changing Society by Governing the Common Good.”
Roy, M.J., Dey, P. and Teasdale, S. (2021), "Re-embedding embeddedness: what is the role of social enterprise in promoting democracy and protecting social rights?", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 379-397. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-02-2021-0011
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited