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Different ways of dealing with tensions: Practices of (re)negotiation in local social economies

Micaela Mazzei (Glasgow School for Business and Society, Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow, UK)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to propose a nuanced understanding of the diverse practices social enterprises engage in to fulfil their commitments of delivering social/environmental goods and/or services while earning income to sustain their activities.


This research paper is based on an empirical investigation which used an ethnographic approach to study the social economy in two distinct city regions in the north of England.


Against a common-sense view of social enterprises being able to balance (with ease) social and economic goals, this paper suggests, based on empirical insights, that such a harmonious rendition tends to neglect the messiness at the heart of such organisations. Heeding ongoing reflections, explanations and negotiations as key ingredients in keeping social enterprises “balanced”, this paper argues that negotiating tensions is a constantly dynamic process.


Using an ethnographic approach, this paper offers insights into the complexities and tensions social enterprises constantly deal with and it shows these tensions must be constantly renegotiated.



Mazzei, M. (2017), "Different ways of dealing with tensions: Practices of (re)negotiation in local social economies", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 299-314.



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