Of late, social enterprise has been criticised for discursively transforming third sector organisations and practitioners into economic agents. This paper argues that such a critique might overestimate the degree to which the discourse of social enterprise works as a deterministic force. Asserting that discourse, rather than being imposed on the third sector, implies subjects who affirm its power, we suggest that discursive conceptualisations of ‘social enterprise' are incomplete without empirical studies focusing on how discourse infiltrates the third sector at the level of the subject. Drawing from a qualitative study in the UK, we use Pêcheux's work on dis/identification to illustrate different ways in which third sector practitioners endorse or reject the discursive invocation. Discussing how processes of identification, counter-identification or disidentification perpetuate or transgress respectively the discourse of social enterprise, we conclude by highlighting important issues which might to be dealt with through prospective research.
contribution to scientific community
Re-examining Philanthropy: Exploring Root Concepts for our Field(s)
41st Association for Research on Nonprofit Organization and Voluntery Action (ARNOVA) Conference