This paper aims to re-evaluate social enterprise (SE) history to pinpoint a pluralist turn in communitarian philosophy during the 1970s, which has the potential to transform labour and consumer rights in enterprise development.
Through a close examination of model rules created by founders of the FairShares Association (FSA), the authors find that the communitarian origins of SE are disturbingly obscured and hidden.
In studying FSA documents and building a timeline of the development of the FairShares Model (FSM), the authors found links between SE developments in the UK, continental Europe, Asia, North/South America and the development of solidarity cooperatives.
The authors argue that the discovery of a communitarian pluralist turn advances “new cooperativism” by enfranchising both labour and users in industrial relations (IR). Using this insight, they challenge accounts of SE history and argue for more research on SE’s potential contribution to radical IR.
The paper highlights the potential of the FSM as a vehicle for catalysing new SE and IR practices that share wealth and power more equitably between social entrepreneurs, workforce members, service/product users and community/social investors.
Conflict of interest statement: Both authors are members of FSA Ltd but receive no compensation and hold no stock options. The association is a non-profit company with minimal income. It manages access to a suite of IP called the FSM. The company’s IP is made available to its members and the public using Creative Commons licences for education, research and SE development purposes. The first named author is a named researcher for Social Enterprise International Ltd in an Erasmus+ Project “European FairShares Labs for Social and Blue Innovation” (fees are paid to the author’s university, not to the individual). Whilst this presents some methodological challenges regarding reflexivity, the advantages of membership and project involvement offers significant advantages, particularly in relation to research access.
Ridley-Duff, R. and Bull, M. (2019), "Solidarity cooperatives: The (hidden) origins of communitarian pluralism in the UK social enterprise movement", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 243-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-12-2018-0078Download as .RIS
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