Critical Reflections on Social Entrepreneurship

  • Pascal Dey
  • Chris Steyaert


Learning goals

Upon completing this chapter, you should be able to accomplish the following:
  • Understand that the euphoria surrounding social entrepreneurship marks a severe hindrance for the advancement of knowledge.

  • Comprehend that critique represents an affirmative means for extending the knowledge of social entrepreneurship beyond the confines imposed by common sense and ideology.

  • Recognize the difference inherent in critical approaches of social entrepreneurship.

  • Understand the distinct paradigmatic and theoretical contribution each type of critique makes to the field of social entrepreneurship.

  • Acknowledge that the critique of social entrepreneurship is never completed and that retaining the imaginative and radical potential of social entrepreneurship presupposes institutionalising critique as an on-going task.

  • Draw from linguistic approaches to get immersed in critically reflecting iconic texts of social entrepreneurship.


Social Enterprise Critical Reflection Social Entrepreneurship Nonprofit Sector Social Entrepreneur 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Further Reading

  1. [1]
    Baines, S., Bull, M. and Woolrych, R. (2010), “A more entrepreneurial mindset? Engaging third sector suppliers to the NHS”, in: Social Enterprise Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 49–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Bull, M. (2008), “Challenging tensions: Critical, theoretical and empirical perspectives on social enterprise’, in: International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 268–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    Chand, V.S. (2009), “Beyond nongovernmental development action into social entrepreneurship”, in: Journal of Entrepreneurship, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 139–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    Curtis, T. (2008), “Finding that grit makes a pearl: A critical re-reading of research into social enterprise”, in: International Journal of Entrepreneurial and Behaviour & Research, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 276–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Froggett, L. and Chamberlayne, P. (2004), “Narratives of social enterprise: From biography to practice and policy critique”, in: Qualitative Social Work, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [6]
    Goss, D., Jones, R., Betta, M. and Latham, J. (2011), “Power as practice: A micro-sociological analysis of the dynamics of emancipatory entrepreneurship”, in: Organization Studies, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 211–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    Jones, R., Latham, J. and Betta, M. (2008), “Narrative construction of the social entrepreneurial identity”, in: International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 330–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. [8]
    Latham, J., Jones, R. and Betta, M. (2009), “Critical social entrepreneurship: An alternative discourse analysis”, in: J. Wolfram-Cox, T.G. LeTrent-Jones, M. Voronov and D. Weir (eds.), Critical management studies at work: Negotiating tensions between theory and practice, pp. 285–298, Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    Levander, U. (2010), “Social enterprise: Implication of emerging institutionalized constructions”, in: Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 213–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. [10]
    Lounsbury, M. and Strang, D. (2009), “Social entrepreneurship: Success stories and logic construction”, in: D. Hammack and S. Heydemann (eds.), Globalization, philanthropy and civil society: Projecting philanthropic logics abroad, pp. 71–94, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Peredo, A.M. and McLean, M. (2006), “Social entrepreneurship: A critical review of the concept”, in: Journal of World Business, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 56–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    Sud, M., VanSandt, C.V. and Baugous, A.M. (2008), “Social entrepreneurship: The role of institutions“, in: Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 201–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Ziegler, R. (ed.) (2009), An introduction to social entrepreneurship: Voices, preconditions, contexts, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.Google Scholar
  14. [14]
    Zografos, C. (2006), “Rurality discourses and the role of the social enterprise in regenerating rural Scotland”, in: Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 23, pp. 38–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. [1]
    Armstrong, P. (2005), Critique of entrepreneurship: People and policy, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Arthur, L., Cato, M.S., Keenoy, T. and Smith, R. (2009), “Where is the ‘social’ in social enterprise?”, in: D. Fuller, A.E.F. Jonas and R. Lee (eds.), Interrogating alterity: Alternative economic and political spaces, pp. 207-222, Ashgate , Aldershot.Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    Baudrillard, J. (2008), The perfect crime, Verso, New York.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    Beaulieu, A. and Wouters, P. (2009), “e-research as intervention”, in: N. Jankowski (ed.), e-Research, Transformation in Scholarly Practice, pp. 54-69, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  5. [5]
    Beyes, T. and Steyaert, C. (2011), “The ontological politics of artistic interventions: implications for performing action research”, in: Action Research, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 100-115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [6]
    Bloch, E. (1986), The principle of hope, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  7. [7]
    Boddice, R. (2009), “Forgotten antecedents: Entrepreneurship, ideology and history”, in: R. Ziegler (ed.), An introduction to social entrepreneurship: Voices, preconditions, contexts, pp. 133-152, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    Boje, D., Böhm, S.G., Casey, C., Clegg, S., Contu, A., Costea, B., Gherardi, S., Jones, C., Knights, D., Reed, M., Spicer, A. and Willmott, H. (2001), “Radicalising Organisation Studies and the meaning of critique”, in: Ephemera: Critical dialogues on organization, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 303-313.Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    Boltanski, L. (2011), On critique: A sociology of emancipation, Polity Press, London.Google Scholar
  10. [10]
    Boltanski, L. and Chiapello, E. (2005), The new spirit of capitalism, Verso, London.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Boltanski, L. and Thévenot, L. (1999), “The sociology of critical capacity”, in: European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 359-377.Google Scholar
  12. [12]
    Boschee, J. and McClurg, J. (1), “Towards a better understanding of social entrepreneurship: Some important distinctions“, online:
  13. [13]
    Calas, M.B., Smircich, L. and Bourne, K.A. (2009), “Extending the boundaries: reframing “entrepreneurship as social change” through feminist perspectives”, in: Academy of Management Review, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 552-569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. [14]
    Carmel, E. and Harlock, J. (2008), “Instituting the ‘third sector’ as a governable terrain: Partnership, procurement and performance in the UK”, in: Policy & Politics, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 155-171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. [15]
    Cho, A. (2006), “Politics, values and social entrepreneurship: a critical appraisal”, in: J. Mair, J. Robinson and K. Hockerts (eds.), Social entrepreneurship, pp. 34-56, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.Google Scholar
  16. [16]
    Cook, B., Dodds, C. and Mitchell, W. (2003), “Social entrepreneurship: false premises and dangerous forebodings”, in: Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 38, 57-71.Google Scholar
  17. [17]
    Cukier, W., Trenholm, S., Carl, D. and Gekas, G. (2011), “Social entrepreneurship: A content analysis”, in: Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 99-119.Google Scholar
  18. [18]
    Dees, G.J., Emerson, J. and Economy, P. (2001), Enterprising nonprofits: A toolkit for social entrepreneurs, John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  19. [19]
    Dees, G.J., Emerson, J. and Economy, P. (2002), Strategic tools for social entrepreneurs: Enhancing the performance of your enterprising nonprofit, John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  20. [20]
    Dempsey, S.E. and Sanders, M.L. (2010), “Meaningful work? Nonprofit marketisation and work/life balance in popular autobiographies of social entrepreneurship“, in: Organization, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 437-459.Google Scholar
  21. [21]
    Dey, P. and Steyaert, C. (2010), “The politics of narrating social entrepreneurship“, in: Journal of Enterprising Communities, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 85-108.Google Scholar
  22. [22]
    Edwards, M. (2008), Just another emperor? The myths and realities of philanthrocapitalism, Demos, New York.Google Scholar
  23. [23]
    Eikenberry, A.M. (2009), “Refusing the market: A democratic discourse for voluntary and nonprofit organizations”, in: Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 582-596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. [24]
    Eikenberry, A.M. and Kluver, J.D. (2004), “The marketization of the nonprofit sector: Civil society at risk?”, in: Public Administration Review, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 132-140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. [25]
    Foucault, M. (1978), The history of sexuality, Vol. I: An introduction, Random House, New York.Google Scholar
  26. [26]
    Foucault, M. (1991), “Governmentality”, in: G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller (eds.), The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hemel Hempstead.Google Scholar
  27. [27]
    Foucault, M. (1998), “A preface to transgression”, in: L.D. Faubion (ed.), Michel Foucault: Aesthetic, method and epistemology, pp. 69-87, The Penguin Press, Harmondsworth.Google Scholar
  28. [28]
    Freeman, R. and Rustin, M. (1999), “Introduction: welfare, culture and Europe”, in: P. Chamberlayne, A. Cooper, R. Freeman and M. Rustin (eds.), Welfare and culture in Europe: Towards a new paradigm in social policy, pp. 9-20, Jessica Kingsley, London.Google Scholar
  29. [29]
    Friedman, V.J. and Desivilya, H. (2010), “Integrating social entrepreneurship and conflict engagement for regional development in divided societies”, in: Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 495-514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. [30]
    Gasché, R. (2007), The honor of thinking: Critique, theory, philosophy, Stanford University Press, Stanford.Google Scholar
  31. [31]
    Gilman-Opalsky, R. (2011), Spectacular capitalism: Guy Debord & the practice of radical philosophy, Minor Compositions, London.Google Scholar
  32. [32]
    Hervieux, C., Gedajlovic, E. and Turcotte, M.F.B. (2010), “The legitimization of social entrepreneurship”, in: Journal of Enterprising Communities, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 37-67.Google Scholar
  33. [33]
    Hjorth, D. (2009), “Entrepreneurship, sociality and art: Re-imagining the public”, in: R. Ziegler (ed.), An introduction to social entrepreneurship: Voices, preconditions, contexts, pp. 207-227, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.Google Scholar
  34. [34]
    Hogg, E. and Baines, S. (2011), “Changing responsibilities and roles of the voluntary and community sector in the welfare mix: A review”, in: Social Policy and Society, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 341-352.Google Scholar
  35. [35]
    Jones, C. and Spicer, A. (2010), Unmasking the entrepreneur, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  36. [36]
    Jones, R., Betta, M., Latham, J. & Gross, D. (2009), “Female social entrepreneurship as a discursive struggle”, in: AGSE, pp. 871-885.Google Scholar
  37. [37]
    Kerlin, J.A. and Pollak, T.H. (2010), “Nonprofit commercial revenue: A replacement for declining government grants and contributions?“, in: American Review of Public Administration, November 17, 2010, 0275074010387293.Google Scholar
  38. [38]
    Mair, J. and Marti, I. (2006), “Social entrepreneurship research: a source of explanation, prediction, and delight”, in: Journal of World Business, vol. 41, pp. 36-44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. [39]
    Martin, R.L. and Osberg, S. (2007), “Social entrepreneurship: The case for definition”, in: Stanford Social Innovation Review, pp. 28-39.Google Scholar
  40. [40]
    Nealon, J.T. (2008), Foucault beyond Foucault: Power and its intensifications since 1984, Stanford University Press, Stanford.Google Scholar
  41. [41]
    Nicholls, A. and Young, R. (2008), “Preface to the paperback edition”, in: A. Nicholls (ed.), Social entrepreneurship: New models of sustainable social change, pp.vii-xxiii, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  42. [42]
    Noys, B. (2011). “The fabric of struggles”, in: B. Noys (ed.), Communization and its discontents: Contestation, critique, and contemporary struggle, pp. 7-22, Minor Compositions, London.Google Scholar
  43. [43]
    Ogbor, J. O. (2000), “Mythicising and reification in entrepreneurial discourse: Ideology-critique of entrepreneurial studies”, in: Journal of Management Studies, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 605-635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. [44]
    Parkinson, C. and Howorth, C. (2008), “The language of social entrepreneurs”, in: Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 285-309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. [45]
    Rawls, J. (1999), A theory of justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  46. [46]
    Sandberg, J. and Alvesson, M. (2011), “Ways of construction research questions: Gap-spotting or problematization?”, in: Organization, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 23-44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. [47]
    Steyaert, C. (2011), “Entrepreneurship as in(ter)vention: reconsidering the conceptual politics of method in entrepreneurship studies”, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, vol. 23, no. 1-2, pp. 77-88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. [48]
    Steyaert, C. and Hjorth, D. (2006), “What is social in social entrepreneurship?”, in: C. Steyaert and D. Hjorth (eds.), Entrepreneurship as social change: A third movements in entrepreneurship book, pp. 1-18, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.Google Scholar
  49. [49]
    Steyaert, C. and Dey, P. (2010), “Nine verbs to keep the research agenda of social entrepreneurship ‘dangerous’”, in: Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 231-254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. [50]
    Teasdale, S. (2011), “What’s in a name? Making sense of social enterprise discourses”, in Public Policy and Administration, vol. 25, doi: 10.1177/0952076711401466Google Scholar
  51. [51]
    Weiskopf, R. and Steyaert, C. (2009), “Metamorphoses in entrepreneurship studies: towards an affirmative politics of entrepreneuring”, in: D. Hjorth and C. Steyaert, (eds.), The politics and aesthetics of entrepreneurship. A fourth movements in entrepreneurship book, pp. 183-201, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.Google Scholar
  52. [52]
    Willig, R. (2009), “Critique with anthropological authority: a programmatic outline for a critical sociology”, in: Critical Sociology, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 509-519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. [53]
    Yunus, M. (2008), Creating a world without poverty: Social business and the future of capitalism, PublicAffairs, New York.Google Scholar
  54. [54]
    Žižek, S. (2008), Violence: Six sideways reflections, Picador, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gabler Verlag | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pascal Dey
    • 1
  • Chris Steyaert
    • 1
  1. 1.University of St. GallenSt. GallenGermany

Personalised recommendations