Social enterprise: Accountability and evaluation around the world


Denny, Simon


Instead of theorizing SE as a conceptual whole, I adopt a critical view which tolerates both the contradictory multiplicities in SE identities, and the centrality of fractured power relations in the SE construct and its discourses (Sharp and Richardson 2001 ; Tomlinson and Schwabenland 2010 ). In doing so, I draw from some key research dealing with SE identity, especially that which centres on articulation of the self and the suppressed-self (Jones et al. 2008 ; Parkinson and Howorth 2008 ). Following this, I develop an account of the contemporary importance of conceptual ‘fault-lines’ in SE discourse, which bears testament to the diverse histories and cultural legacies that have produced socially enterprising organizations. Building on this, I seek to further problematize SE discourse with reference to the current critical turn in SE research, especially in terms of the type of power relations in discourse. This assists current knowledge by acknowledging the necessary incompleteness of the SE idea and identities, and shows that political discourse overlooks this reality, creating a false consensus that SE offers a ‘whole’ solution. Indeed, I argue that it is perhaps less than necessary for a full ‘mainstreaming’ of SE when there seems to still be a great deal of value inhabiting the margins where corporations and the state cannot make sustainable impact.

Publication year


Publication type

Book chapter


Social Enterprise: Accountability and Evaluation Around the World / Simon Denny and Frederick Seddon (eds.), Chapter 4, pp. 50-64






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