This intentionally polemical paper will aim to re-examine what is meant by social enterprise and try to assert its role within the current economic system. It is well over a decade since John Pearce’s Social Enterprise in Anytown was first published. Since then the term “social enterprise” has been used in multiple ways by politicians, practitioners and academics – very often for their own ideological ends.
This paper will outline the context and challenges currently facing social enterprise both from outside and from inside the social enterprise movement.
This paper re-affirms a paradigm for social enterprises through re-imagining how social enterprise should and could contribute to the creation of a fairer and more just society.
Finally, this paper will conclude with a reflection on what Pearce argued and how the social enterprise movement has to position itself as a viable alternative way of creating goods and services based on socially responsible values.
This study was supported with the financial assistance of the Medical Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council, grant ref: MR/L0032827/1 for a programme entitled “Developing Methods to Evidence Social Enterprise as a Public Health Intervention”.
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