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Re-embedding embeddedness: what is the role of social enterprise in promoting democracy and protecting social rights?

Michael J. Roy (Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Pascal Dey (Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland and University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland)
Simon Teasdale (Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 18 June 2021

Issue publication date: 9 August 2021

242

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

This is primarily a conceptual paper: a provocation.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

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.”

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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