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Title: Role and significance of social entrepreneurship in UK social policy
Author: Grenier, Paola Marie
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the role and significance of the idea and practice of 'social entrepreneurship' within UK social policy between 1980 and 2006. Social entrepreneurship came to policy prominence in 1997 with the election of New Labour. It promoted the role of individual social entrepreneurs as bringing about social innovation, and it held out the promise of contributing to social policy by revitalising poor communities, professionalising the voluntary sector, and reforming welfare. This study problematises the concept of 'social entrepreneurship', challenges its claim- bearing nature, and presents a more critical and in-depth analysis than is found in the existing research and practitioner literatures. It does this by adopting a social constructionist perspective to analyse the development, representation and enactment of social entrepreneurship as discourse and practice, drawing on a wide range of data from interviews, policy and organisational documents, academic texts, websites, and the media. The findings show that social entrepreneurship has neither given rise to the wide ranging innovations claimed nor resulted in coherent or systematic policy interventions. Rather, the idea of social entrepreneurship framed a convenient discourse within which to emphasise policy priorities centred on further incorporating a market orientation to addressing social needs, thereby extending the 'enterprise culture'. In contrast, the practice of social entrepreneurship took place primarily at the community level, involving the labelling and support of several thousand 'social entrepreneurs' who carried out small-scale social initiatives. The study identified four roles that social entrepreneurship plays in UK social policy, arising from the tensions between the market orientation of social entrepreneurship as an idea and its community oriented practice: celebrating the achievements of individuals; renegotiating welfare responsibilities through the 'active welfare subject'; creating a channel through which business can engage with community; and enabling government policy to respond to the particularism of the local.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available