The Rhetoric of Social Entrepreneurship : Paralogy and New Language in Academic Discourse

Item Type Book Section
Abstract READING REHEARSAL: INTRODUCTION The proliferation of social entrepreneurship narratives being broadcasted on television and published in newspapers, practitioner books and scientific journals epitomizes one of the very latest fashion trends that has penetrated researchers', politicians', and journalists' discourse in equal measure. It is thus noticeable from a cursory glance at the available academic literature that social entrepreneurship gets grounded in such diverse realms as developmental aid work (Fowler, 2000), the voluntary and community sector in the United Kingdom (Pharoah and Scott, 2002), the development of economic communities within the United States (Wallace, 1999), the enrichment of women's work in Sweden (Pestoff, 2000), the promotion of health services in Europe (Catford, 1998, de Leeuw, 1999), non-profit organizations (Mort et al., 2003) or the welfare system more generally (Thompson, 2002). Of utmost importance to me was the recognition that the corpus of texts produced a unanimously positive image of the subject matter. Given, for instance, that many texts stress the univocally positive effects of social enterprises, while providing selective and/or anectotal illustrations of their ‘heroic deeds' (e.g. empowerment (Pestoff, 2000), social transformation (Alvord et al., 2002), regeneration (Thompson, 2002), creation of social benefits (Fowler, 2000), increase of social capital (Leadbeater, 1997), or community economic development (Wallace, 1999)), I was charmed to believe that there was no other option than holding the matter in awe. Hereon I started to deliberate why and how social entrepreneurship was granted such a self-evidently good image? While doggedly refusing to join the approving choir of academics who endlessly rehearsed their hymn of praise, I opted for what I here call an "abnormal path of science', i.e. a stream of reasoning which puts centre stage the question how texts "seduce' the reader into one possible interpretation of a situation over a (theoretically) infinite set of alternative possibilities (Westwood and Clegg, 2003). Taken the paramount plausibility, trustworthiness and assumed objectivity ascribed to academic statements (Alveson and Willmot, 1996), I deemed essential a study which puts prime emphasis upon the ways in which the scholarly community has appropriated the term "social entrepreneurship', and how those constructions serve particular stakes and interests while eliding others. In the adept's mind this might have a familiar ring. Granted, the position that I am aspiring to here is that academic discourse rests on skilfully crafted rhetoric, nothing more, nothing less. So, if you (not WE, because I truly enjoy this vista) "like it or not, we live in a rhetorical word.' (van Maanen, 1995, p. 687).
Authors Dey, Pascal
Editors Steyaert, Chris & Hjorth, Daniel
Language English
Subjects cultural studies
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 2006
Publisher Elgar
Place of Publication Cheltenham
Page Range 121-143
Title of Book Entrepreneurship as social change : a third movements in entrepreneurship book
ISBN 978-1-84542-366-7
Depositing User Prof. Dr. Pascal Dey
Date Deposited 12 Oct 2005 13:07
Last Modified 20 Jul 2022 16:44


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Dey, Pascal: The Rhetoric of Social Entrepreneurship : Paralogy and New Language in Academic Discourse. In Steyaert, Chris & Hjorth, Daniel (ed.): Entrepreneurship as social change : a third movements in entrepreneurship book. Cheltenham : Elgar, 2006, S. 121-143.

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