Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy and Moral Economies – Part 2

Good global citizens

… Many social enterprises are already good global citizens, collaborating internationally and supporting our international development efforts (SSES, 2016: 20).

What is a good global citizen? Well according to the SSES (2016) an organisation or a country or a social enterprise can each be a good global citizen. What is required?

Making distinctive contributions in addressing global challenges such as climate change, tackling inequality and promoting human rights, sharing knowledge and skills and technical expertise for global good (SSES, 2016: 19).

The Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy (SSES, 2016: 20) is not only designed to develop a local response to public service, community and global issues, it proposes a long-term commitment to being a better ‘global citizen’. The hope is that Scottish SEs will be designed and will operate in response to global issues, including: climate change, inequality, and human rights issues. This is documented in the International Framework and Internationalising Social Enterprise Strategy.

Global citizens – whether organisation, country or person – collaborate internationally and trade in overseas markets, boost inward investment and educational opportunities. These goals are ultimately working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SSES, 2016: 20). If the social enterprise sector is visible on the world stage then this  will provide an opportunity to promote policy priorities like fighting climate change.

(Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy, 2016: 19).

The 10 year strategy is Scotland’s Vision for Social Enterprise developed in consultation with the SE community. The plan is that Social Enterprise will be:

  • A growing movement

As it develops the sector will retain its strong community roots, independent orientation, and entrepreneurial character (SSES, 2016: 22).

  • Become the norm

Become widely accepted as a more just, democratic and inclusive way of doing business… inspiring young people who will undertake the change toward the type of society we aspire to (SSES, 2016: 22).

  • Become visible everywhere

Be found delivering goods and services in every economic sector… become seen as the epitome of ethical, transparent and responsible business behaviour (SSES, 2016: 22).

Much like the Victorian SES the Scottish Strategy is informed and framed by particular Priorities that are oriented towards market opportunities and outcomes and stimulating the social enterprise sector:

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(Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy, 2016: 25).

This will be done through the points listed above, from 1a to 3c.

  • Priority 1a. Local Development acknowledges that SE often start because ‘active citizens’ are addressing a local need. The plan is to provide greater support for such active citizens in social contexts there is a paucity of skills or knowledge in this area. So the strategy supports: community development; local strategies; support infrastructure; and equality groups.
  • Strategic priority 1b highlights the usefulness and necessity of social entrepreneurs as ‘can-do’ people. Can-do people must be nurtured and to this end the strategy proposes seeding funds, the development of work spaces, and locating Intrapreneurs working in existing institutions like universities and large charities.

Social entrepreneurs – when they emerge – can feel isolated, unrecognised and unsupported. They also find unnecessary objects in their way when trying to get promising ideas off the ground. We must ensure that these can-do people get the encouragement and support they need’ (SSES, 2016; 29).

  • 1c. At schools and universities students will be encouraged to become ‘can-do’ people by adopting an entrepreneurial attitude and imagining that they can affect change in the world through this type of thinking and action (See for instance, the Developing the Young Workforce strategy).
  • One of the greatest ambitions of the SSES is to make social enterprise the norm, this means increasing recognition for SEs as defined in 1d:

We want more decision makers, influencers and supporters (in Scotland and internationally) to understand social enterprise, giving rise to further local action and more social enterprise activity (SSES, 2016: 31).

  • 2a. The strategy regarding funding seeks to further monetise SEs and emphasises capital growth. Where there is investment, there is risk. ‘Responsive Finance’ will offer blended capital which means mixing loans and grants to distribute the financial risk between lender and entrepreneur. The result is that a greater burden will be placed on entrepreneurs to undertake extra training (or ‘Investment-Readiness’ training SSES, 2016:34) to be seen as a viable investment and allieviate the fears of investors.
  • Priority 2b. recognises that business support should be tailored to different forms of business, from community enterprises to social enterprises, and address the needs of minority ethnic communities. This priority articulates a need for an ‘Advisor Network’ which would build links between social enterprise advisors or Intermediaries as they are known in Australia.
  • 2c. focuses on Collaboration and how SEs can work together to benefit from shared resources, reduced costs, and access to new markets. This type of network building is to be facilitated by the development of networks, consortia and collaborative technologies.
  • 2d. Leadership development involves training programs for ‘future leaders, empowered governance and international leadership’ (SSES, 2016: 37).
  • 2e. Workforce development means supporting Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) which:

Improve the employability and employment prospects of people furthest from the labour market

This includes finding creative ways to enable Social Firms to take on employees with higher support needs (including the use of targeted wage incentives) (SSES, 2016: 38).

WISE are similar to Transitional Labour Market Programs (TLMPs) which we discuss at length in this report on Action Learning and Social Enterprise in Australia.

  • 2f. Is concerned with demonstrating the ‘Social Value’ of SEs and building their capability. This will mean measuring the impact of SEs or what they have been able to contribute to the market, the workplace, their supply chain, local economy and community and environment. This might also be a ‘balanced account’ of performance for those small SE organisations. Reporting requirements will be developed with funders, purchasers and regulators.
  • 3a. Sets out goals to engage ‘Public markets’ so that more SEs are delivering a broader range of services through public sector engagement, collaborative commissioning and social procurement.
  • 3b. Social enterprises will be more visible to consumers and tap into ethical consumption habits.

Public awareness and recognition of social enterprise remains low. Social enterprise products and services are not yet widely available or easily accessible to consumers… We will encourage and support the introduction of Buy Social as an internationally recognised third party certification programme to label social enterprise products and services (SSES, 2016: 43).

  • 3c. The business market will be engaged with by tapping into what is viewed as a broader social enterprise community with the aim of increasing trade between SEs and businesses. The Sharing Economy and Corporate Supply Chains will provide models for sharing resources and circulating money within the social economy (SSES, 2016: 44).

 

Neo-Liberalism – it’s common sense!

The Social Enterprise policy and strategy documents – Victorian and Scottish – lay out a number of rules and regulations for people thinking of starting up a social enterprise and those already operating one. These documents emphasise ‘capital’, ‘the market’, ‘profitability’, ‘finance’, ‘consumption’ and ‘value’. The idea is that what SEs are and what they can become is influenced and shaped by the preferences laid out by the Victorian and Scottish Government. International growth and profit are key goals. The problem is that a focus on growth and economic profit will often contradict SE missions, interfere with SE programs and inhibit the articulation of alternatives to what can be understood as neo-Liberal capitalist business models. The reason why such alternatives are desirable and necessary is a discussion we will pick up on in later posts.

In other spaces we have discussed capitalism, neo-liberalism and the ways in which they shape our everyday lives, from the food we eat and how we eat it to the ways we share in relationships with other people (See Kelly and Pike, 2017: 10-14). Neo-Liberal capitalism:

…signals the emergence, development and deployment of a range of political rationalities and governmental technologies (Rose and Miller 1992) that seek to make the ‘real’ knowable and governable through the behaviours and dispositions of autonomous, rational, choice-making, risk aware, prudent and enterprising individuals (Kelly and Pike, 2017: 12).

Today, the global logics of neo-Liberal capitalism structure our interactions, our working lives, or lives of work. Neo-liberalism shapes and attempts to produce competitive, individualistic, entrepreneurial people. In much of our work we draw on the legacy of Michel Foucault to imagine neo-Liberalism as: ‘an art of government, a mentality of rule. Here neo-Liberalism is much more than economic theory, or political discourse, or public policy’ (Kelly and Pike, 2017: 13). Neo-Liberalism shapes fields of possibilities, that is, the social environment in which we shape our identity, come to know ourselves and others. In our everyday lives we encounter ‘bundles of beliefs’ that appear to be common-sense: ‘ideas beyond question, assumptions so deep that the very fact that they are assumptions is only rarely bought to light’ (Hall, 2013: 8-9). Neo-Liberalism is a bundle of beliefs that rely on the widespread acceptance of ‘the market’, ‘the competitive individual’ (#boss), and the primacy/priority of the ‘private over the public’ (Kelly and Pike, 2017: 14).

There is growing concern with the ways in which a market logic, or neo-Liberal commonsense, has negative consequences for our well-being, our future and our relationships. There is an increasing awareness that, as Hall et al (2013: 14-15) say:

Commercialisation permeates everywhere, trumps everything. Once the imperatives of a “market culture” become entrenched, anything goes. Such is the power of the hegemonic common sense.

For instance, after the US led Global Financial Crisis of 2008 we witnessed mass protests and uprisings around the world (i.e. Occupy, the Indignados and the Arab Spring), which sought to challenge neo-Liberal commonsense that everything can and should be commodified, that the market and profit should be prioritised over all other aspects of life.

… This is where Social Enterprises come in to the picture. In the Victorian and Scottish SE strategies SEs are presented as models of ethical and moral community, social and commercial practice.

Yet, there is some irony here in that having developed such a picture of SEs, the Strategic documents propose a market logic to develop and mould the social enterprise sector. Of course SEs are not immune to the commonsense logic of neo-Liberal capitalism. This is not to say that they are inherently good or bad, but that they are shaped in relation to the prevailing trends of the market, of commercialisation, entrepreneurialism, competitive individiualism.

Moral Economies and Social Enterprise

It is in this context of neo-Liberal capitalism that we introduced the idea of ‘moral economies’ in an earlier blog post. Moral economies refer to the social, political and spatial dimensions of the choices we make, and the ways these spaces frame what it is that we should choose to do.

“Moral economy” is a concept, originally introduced by E P Thompson (1971) in a discussion of food riots in the “premodern” English economy of the eighteenth century, that, in a much wider sense than first imagined by Thompson, suggests a

kind of inquiry focusing on how economic activities of all kinds are influenced by moral dispositions, values and norms, and how in turn these are reinforced, shaped, compromised or overridden by economic pressures (Kelly and Pike, 2017: 18).

Broadly speaking, moral economies underpin the rules and boundaries we live by in our communities and societies.

The theory of moral economy assumes that economic activities are defined and legitimized by moral beliefs, values, and norms… In particular, agrarian communities are said to share a set of normative attitudes concerning the social relations that surround their local economies. Social networks and culturally legitimized dealings tend to prevail over market-efficient behavior, as they promote the survival of the community under the conditions of scarcity (Cieslik, 2016: 12).

Moral economies establish commonly agreed upon moral and ethical norms governing appropriate/preferred behaviour in relation to others – but this does not mean they are inherently just, equitable or fair. Moral economies are made up to assist the smooth functioning of people in groups, in society.

Just what counts as moral, as opposed to immoral, behaviour is contestable; some forms of moral economy, for example, that of the patriarchal household, might be deemed immoral, or as a domain disguised as benevolence and fairness (Sayer, 2004: 2).

Moral economies – and immoral economies – are intricately tied to the ‘ways in wich markets and associated economic phenomena both depend on and influence moral ethical sentiments, norms and behaviours and have ethical implications’ (Sayer, 2004: 2). In this sense, the concept allows us to examine:

  • moral aspects of economic practices – the role of social enterprise ‘missions’;
  • economic influences on morality – why these missions exist and to which fields can they be mapped and traced?;
  • how economic organisation affects human well-being – how is young people’s well-being affected by their participation in social enterprise programs?.

Social enterprises have overt moral codes and undertake social missions which is one of the things that makes them different to other organisations. It is the moral dimensions of social enterprises. and how thses are constructed and communicated that interests us as we attempt to understand how young people participating in SE programs are encouraged to shape a sense of self and carve out a path into the future.

As we said in part one of our discussion of the SSES:

People might be able to imagine themselves as responsible for local community issues which SEs address, but these issues are often tied to broader, even global issues which exist outside the reach of many individuals as they go about their daily lives.

The Strategic documents encourage people to think of themselves as problem solvers, as the active citizens who should take up community and social issues as part of their personal and professional life journey and career (entrepreneurs, Guerrilla selves!). But, they should do it in a way that is financially profitable, that encourages other people to consume products and services (whether they are needed or not). The Strategic documents provide a detailed map of how existing SEs and attached moral economies should take economic factors into consideration, particularly:

  • financial growth;
  • global networking and collaboration;
  • consumer habits;
  • market and financial viability.

The Strategy or plan is to further sculpt social enterprises in the image of profitable business that engage with and sustain the neo-Liberal capitialist economic market. In this sense particular attitudes and dispositions are encouraged and praised, for example:

  • Good global citizens;
  • ‘Can-do’ people;
  • Intrapreneurs;
  • Social entrepreneurs.

Again, we would stress that what our research is interested is in exploring the challenges and opportunities, the limits and possibilities, the intended and unintended consequences of attempts to make individuals, communities, social enterprises morally responsible for being ‘active’, ‘globally oriented’ entrepreneurs/enterprises in relation to problems and challenges that themselves emerge as a consequence of the global, competive logics of a neo-Liberal capitalism that seeks to privatise, commodify and monetise all aspects of our lives and the world in which we conduct our lives.

References

Cieslik, K. (2016) ‘Moral Economy Meets Social Enterprise Community-Based Green Energy Project in Rural Burundi’, World Development, Volume 83, July 2016, Pages 12–26. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.03.009

Hall, S. D, Massey , and M. Rustin, eds. (2014) After neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto, Soundings. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Kelly, P. and Pike, J. (2017) ‘Is Neo-Liberal Capitalism Eating Itself or Its Young? in Kelly, P. and Pike, J. eds. Neo-Liberalism and Austerity: The Moral Economies of Young People’s Health and Well-being, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sayer, A. (2004) Moral Economy. [Accessed 20 January, 2016]. Available from http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/papers/sayer-moral-economy.pdf.

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