This is our site for sharing information and findings as we carry out a three year project about young peoples participation in Arts Based Social Enterprises. This research is supported fully by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council's Discovery Projects funding scheme (project DP170100547). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or Australian Research Council. Follow us on Twitter @YouthSocialEnt
We never write on a blank page, but always one that has been written on” (de Certeau cited in Lather 2001b:477-478).
Throughout our project we will use situational analysis to take into account the different ways in which social enterprise organisations are shaped and shape themselves, the environment in which this occurs and how structures, systems and people play different roles in this process. This approach will also enable us to account for the ways in which programs for young people are formed.
So, what is situational analysis? Clarke (2005) tells us that situational analysis is a research tool which enables us to further understand the context in which we live our lives, how we are shaped and shape our selves and our social environment. It is a form of mapping that helps us to look beyond individual and collective human actors to take into account nonhuman material cultural objects. As Clarke (2005: 146) says, it’s necessary in qualitative research…
… Because we and the people and things we choose to study are all routinely both producing and awash in seas of discourses, analyzing only individual and collective human actors no longer suffices for many qualitative projects. Increasingly, historical, visual, narrative, and other discourse materials and nonhuman material cultural objects of all kinds must be included as elements of our research and subjected to analysis because they are increasingly understood/interpreted as both constitutive of and consequential for the phenomena we study.
The idea is that as researchers we are able to better account for the different locations our information comes from and the different forms it takes (documents, media, televisual material, interviews). This means that we can use situational analysis to understand different forms of information – for example, historical, social, geographical, dgital information – in one study. This would be a ‘multisite’ study or research project. The idea is that situational analysis can help qualitative researchers to develop new methods, across the sciences, humanities and professional fields (Clarke, 2005: 146).
Clarke (2005: 146) calls this ‘qualitative analysis after the postmodern turn’, in which postmodernism is understood as the historical, theoretical shift towards understanding people, their experiences and their social environment through the lens of discourse analysis and relationships of power. Discourse analysis allows us to imagine that, as human beings we are already and always will be engaged in an ongoing, complex, often contradictory process of becoming who we are, and this occurs in relation to other people, social institutions, social rules and regulations, constructs of gender, class, ethnicity, race and other personal and the professional power relationships we are involved in.
Understanding these different influences and elements is the work of bricoleurs:
Bricoleurs assemble project-appropriate tool kits from a broad repertoire of available concepts and approaches—selecting what they believe are “the right tools for the job.” We need to keep in mind, of course, that the “tools,” the “job,” and the “rightness” are all constructions, always already emergent and changing (Clarke, 2005: 147).
In the context of our project situational analysis will allow us to use diverse approaches and analytical tools, and take into account different types of discourse – particularly policy discourse, (i.e the Victorian Social Enterprise Strategy) academic discourse (i.e. ‘moral economies’) and social enterprise discourse.
Clarke uses the terms ‘situational analysis’ and ‘grounded theory’ together to describe her approach. This is because situational analysis builds on grounded theory. Grounded theory involves the construction of theory from rigorous data analysis. It sounds and is quite complicated but it’s aim is to help close the gap between theory and empirical research or the things, people and stories researchers encounter in real life.
The goal of grounded theorists is to develop theory which is more than just description (Goulding, 2002: 42). Goulding adapts the theory of management and business practices, and says it should:
1. Enable prediction and explanation of behaviour
2. Be useful in theoretical advances in sociology
3. Be applicable in practice
4. Provide a perspective on behaviour
5. Guide and provide a style for research on particular areas of behaviour
6. Provide clear enough categories and hypothesis so that crucial ones can be verified in present and future research (Goulding, 2002: 43).
It is the combination of the groundedness of interpretation with the systematic handling of data that makes grounded theory and situational analysis robust approaches in qualitative research (Clarke, 2011: 147).
To clarify, this formulation of theory shouldn’t be interpreted as discovering some pre-existing ‘reality’, rather we can understand truths as ‘enacted’ and ‘theories’ as interpretations.
… interpretations are temporarily constraint. They should always be seen as provisional and subject to future elaboration, and it should be recognised that they are limited in time; they may become outdated or in need of qualification (Goulding, 2011: 43).
These research methodologies are about keeping an open mind and taking into account the many different elements of our environment when trying to understand particular things. As we attempt to understand how social enterprise organisations support the well-being, education and training and work opportunities of marginalised young people we will need to take into account:
the social and geographical location of the social enterprise organisation;
the history and structure of the organisation;
what role arts-based programs play, and are intended to play, in young peoples transitions;
how stakeholders and young people understand the organisation and their role;
what type of artistic practice these programs engage;
the role non-human material cultural objects play for the people involved;
the affective environment that is generated by the organisation and those involved.
Clarke, A. (2005) Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory After the Postmodern Turn, Sage: California.
Goulding, C. (2002) Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide for Management, Business and Market Researchers, Sage: London.
The project: ‘Art based social enterprises and marginalised young people’s transitions’
The project is examining how art-based social enterprise organisations manage education, training and work transitions, and develop the health and well-being of marginalised young people. In particular, the project is exploring the specific education and employment outcomes achieved for young people situated in these alternative learning settings. Social enterprises are a rapidly expanding sector of the Australian economy with 20,000 programs currently operating. Using a longitudinal, critical case methodology the project will provide sector stakeholders with a strong evidence base to develop long-term strategy for innovative policy and engagement practice.
The role: PhD Candidate 2018 – 2020
The PhD candidate will be supported with an RMIT scholarship and will be based at RMIT University in the Centre for Art, Society and Transformation (CAST), under the primary supervision of Dr Grace McQuilten.
The PhD candidate will be supported to develop a related project – that may employ creative methods to engage young people in case study fieldwork while also expanding and diversifying the ways in which the results of the study can be communicated.
The candidate will work with case study organisations and program participants to develop, create and publish a series of creative works specific to each enterprise, including; photography, video, sound and textiles. The PhD project will contribute valuable insight into the impact of creative activity on young people’s experiences in social enterprise programs.
The PhD student will commence in the first semester of 2018.
Formal application process To be assessed for eligibility for our research programs applicants must submit a formal application to RMIT School of Art through the School of Graduate Studies at RMIT. The PhD Candidate should nominate Grace McQuilten and Peter Kelly as supervisors for the project in the application form. They should also submit a research proposal with examples of their creative and written work.
The research proposal should respond to the project brief and demonstrate how it will add value to the research project. This is a funded PhD place with scholarship that contributes to an ARC research project. Proposals that indicate the candidate will continue their existing practice or start an independent project will not be considered appropriate.
Please refer to the School of Art admissions information booklet: PhD-Candidate-SoA admissionsfor information on the PhD program and how to write your research proposal. How to prepare your proposal:
Social Enterprises (SEs) are hybrid organisations situated between the public and private sector that combine enterprise activity with the generation of social benefits. It is claimed that the SE model promotes economic capacity, social inclusion and social innovation (Bielfeld, 2009; Campbell, 2011). The Social Enterprise based model (including a significant number of Art Based Social Enterprises [ASEs]) of education, training and employment pathways for marginalised young people promises to ‘break the cycle of youth unemployment’ (Lynn 2014). ASEs, in particular, are considered to be highly effective at engaging marginalised young people (McQuilten, 2015). In the post-mining boom Australian economy over 20,000 Social Enterprises contribute 2-3 per cent of national GDP (Barraket 2010). Despite these claims, and the sheer scale of the sector, the complexities and dynamics of young people’s education, training, work and health and well-being continue to pose significant policy and business challenges for governments, businesses, Third Sector Organisations (TSOs) and communities.
The project aims to document and analyse the challenges and opportunities faced by Art Based Social Enterprises (ASE) working with marginalised young people. The project will:
a) provide new empirical insights into marginalised young people’s education, training and work transitions, and physical and mental health and well-being in the post-GFC economy;
b) develop an evidence base for government, TSO, arts, business and community stakeholders on which to build a long-term strategy for innovative policy and engagement practice;
c) and make substantial new contributions to critical social entrepreneurship studies.
Dr Deborah Warr, Associate Professor and Australian Research Coucil Future Fellow, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, email@example.com
… 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 Frameworkand 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 UnitedNations 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.
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:
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 Workforcestrategy).
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 reporton 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 asneo-Liberal capitalist business models. The reason why such alternatives are desirable and necessary is a discussion we will pick up on in later posts.
…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, entrepreneurialpeople. In much of our work we draw on the legacy of Michel Foucaultto 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:
global networking and collaboration;
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:
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.
The social enterprise sector in Scotland delivers £1.68 billion to their economy each year, employs 100,000 people and there are plans to increase this number even further. The ‘Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy’ (what we will refer to as ‘SSES, 2016’) provides a long term 10 year plan to develop the sector via 3 year ‘Action Plans’.
The strategy begins by positioning SE as intrinsic to Scottish culture and the economy.
Social enterprise is also an important part of our national identity and international reputation (SSES, 2016: 16).
They say for instance, that more than 5000 SEs are currently operating in the country, three in five of these generate an annual turnover of less than £100,000, and two thirds of all SEs in Scotland sell directly to the public (SSES, 2016: 9).
The strategy is framed by the idea of an uncertain and ambiguous economic future in which, it is thought, SEs can provide sustainable, entrepreneurial solutions. Also on the social enterprise agenda is: fair work, place and regional cohesion, tackling inequality and human rights as defined in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan(SSES, 2016: 15).
The world is increasingly volatile, complex and ambiguous. In response, the delivery of this long-term strategy must remain agile (SSES, 2016: 10).
Through this logic SEs are seen as agile, flexible and able to adapt to volatile markets which render traditional business models clunky and old fashioned. SEs are packaged as new, caring businesses that are able to address public needs and concerns. You can see below where social enterprise is positioned within Scotlands Economic Strategy as a mode of ‘inclusive growth’, alongside goals like ‘investment’, ‘innovation’ and ‘internationalism’.
The strategy is forward looking in that it identifies a range of political, social, economic and technological futuretrends which it is thought will influence social enterprise operations and opportunities:
The influences and trends presented have been identified as both relevant and plausible. They have informed our thinking on how best to help the sector adapt to the dynamic and challenging period ahead (SSES, 2016: 10).
Let’s look at these future trends and what they mean for social enterprises …
Technological trends: The SSES claims that as technology enables public scrutiny of SE activities, SEs will be encouraged to collect robust data, show good governance and social impact (pictured left). And as socially responsible products and practices increasingly become more familiar to the public, more hybrid businesses are likely to emerge in the sector. Here, SEs are presented as the ‘business of the people’ – trustworthy, grassroots, accountable, hi-tech, responsible and capable of social and economic impact (SSES, 2016: 12).
These ‘trends’ identified by the strategy can be thought of as framing mechanisms or ways of attributing particular meaning to SEs. SEs are identified as vehicles that can be mobilised to addresss a range of economic and social problems, from local community concerns to uncertain economic markets.
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. This is an idea which we will pick up on in our discussions about ‘moral economies’ and social enterprises in later posts.
Politicalchanges: First, ‘Enabling legislation’ is identified as something that will open up financial and funding possibilities for SEs, particularly in the areas of early learning and childcare, health and social care, land ownership, broadband and transport. SEs are encourged to capitalise on the opportunities that arise in these spaces.
Second, it is predicted that increasingly localised public services will need a personalised response. And this is where it is claimed that SEs can step in to offer these kinds of unique, customised services.
Finally, it is thought that change will come about from high levels of democratic participation:
High levels of democratic participation is likely over time to lead to power being devolved downwards. Locality planning, participatory budgeting, and community empowerment are symbolic of the shifts underway. Further work will be required to ensure services are locally organised, people powered, and enterprising (SSES, 2016: 11).
While Social trends (pictured below left) include: demographic change, persistent inequalities, the influence of young people, and ethical consumption. The responsibility of caring for an aging population and providing innovative solutuons for aging populations is attributed to SEs, as well as the responsibility of fighting entrenched social inequality.
Nothing less than social transformation is the expected impact of social entrepreneurialism and enterprise. The spirit of entrepreneurialism is tied to the ‘younger generation’ who are relied upon for ‘progressive values’ and ‘new expectations anout society, business and life’ (SSES, 2016: 11). And this point is expanded on in relation to schooling a little later in the strategy, where there are plans to develop an education system with entrepreneurship at the core to capitalise on the potential of Scotlands young workforce (SSES, 2016: 16).
Finally, it is thought that our own motivation as consumers to buy ethically produced and responsible products and services, is cited as a driver for social change. Social Enterprises are encouraged to leverage these political and social trends to grow the sector, unite communities and fight against socio-economic injustice (our team member Kim Humphrey is an expert in the dynamics of ‘ethical consumption’).
A desire to live better, more sustainable lives means consumers will increasingly make ethical choices. This may fuel growth of the sector, but only if social enterprises are more visible and able to supply consumer requirements (SSES, 2016: 11).
The Economic trends identified by the SSES provide the final piece of the puzzle (SSES, 2016: 12). Here, entrepreneurialism is something that can balance and revitalise the economy by creating a more diverse business base. And, in the economic trends section we see a reflection of the social trends mentioned above. The idea of ‘business with a purpose’, social impact and ‘collaboration’/partnership taps into social trends of moral or ethical consumption (see Kim Humphrey’s Excess: Anti-Consumerism in the West).
We will pick up on this discussion of business with a purpose in our next post on social enterprises as the ‘good global citizen’, intrapreneurship and mobilising the consumer for market opportunity. In that post we reflect on what these ideas mean if we examine them through the lens of the ‘moral economies of social enterprise’.
As part of the development of the work of the larger 3 year project we are interested in exploring particular approaches to understanding the contexts in which social enterprises in general, and arts based social enterprises in particular, work with, and for, young people, and for the promotion of marginalised young people’s transitions and social, economic and physical and mental health and well-being.
A key dimension of these contexts is the different forms of responsibility that different agencies, organisations, departments, businesses, communities, neighbourhoods, and individuals assume, or are allocated, in relation to addressing the significant challenges and opportunities that many young people, marginalised or otherwise, face, and which, increasingly, social enterprises are imagined as providing the solution to.
A key concept here will be the idea of ‘moral economy’. This concept enables us to focus on a number of things, including:
those processes that seek to make social enterprise responsible – by governments, businesses and communities – for managing a range of youth issues and concerns;
to imagine these processes as being inherently ‘moral’ in that they ALWAYS involve making some choices, and not others;
to focus on the different power relations that enable some individuals and organisations to be made responsible, and others not so much;
and to critically analyse the consequences – intended or otherwise – for young people, their families and communities, for the ‘moral economies’ of social enterprises.
This concept has a particular history in social science. It has also been used in a number of ways by project members in earlier projects which introduced this concept into the field of Youth Studies.
In this book we used the concept of moral geographies to identify and engage with the elements of choice that relate what it is that we should feed ourselves, our families, our children. We suggested that these questions of choice and what we should imagine as food extended to the various, often complex and ambiguous, processes and practices of food production, processing, transportation and preparation. As well as to the array of personal and cultural practices that structure often idealised, always morally inflected, ideas about children, parenting and food, the family meal, the issues of young people’s nutrition, health and well-being, public health ‘crises’ such as obesity, and the array of possible responses and interventions in relation to these issues, these crises.
We were interested in the cultural, economic, social, political and spatial dimensions of these choices; the things that contribute to the shaping and the making of these choices; the normative and non-normative forces and positions that contribute to the naming and framing of what it is that we should choose to do, how we should choose to prepare, present and consume our food, where and when these practices and processes should occur, who should be present, and what relations of authority are implicated in the choosing and the doing.
Building on our work on moral geographies we found Andrew Sayer’s (2000, 2004 a & b) discussions of moral economies to be useful in framing a discussion of Neo-Liberalism and Austerity, and the ways in which economies are always ‘moral’ (which is different to saying that ‘economics’ is always moral!).
For Sayer (2004b), ‘moral economy’ is a concept that suggests a:
kind of inquiry focussing on how economic activities of all kinds are influenced and structured by moral dispositions, values and norms, and how in turn these are reinforced, shaped, compromised or overridden by economic pressures.
It is in this sense, Sayer (2004b) argues, that ‘moral’ and ‘economy’ are ‘best defined broadly’. The ‘moral’ here includes an interest in:
lay norms (informal and formal), conventions, values, dispositions and commitments regarding what is just and what constitutes good behaviour in relation to others, and implies certain broader conceptions of the good or well-being.
Sayer (2004a, p.2) suggests that it can be useful to argue that ‘all economies – not merely pre- or non-capitalist ones – are moral economies’. In doing so he recognises that:
Of course, 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 domination disguised as benevolence and fairness.
In his work on moral economies Sayer (2004a, p.2) explores the
ways in which markets and associated economic phenomena both depend on and influence moral/ethical sentiments, norms and behaviours and have ethical implications.
Importantly, given our interests in that book in the array of choices made and not made about young people, their education, training and work, their health and well-being in a post-GFC period of ongoing crises for neo-Liberal capitalism, this broad view of the moral creates a:
space not only for assessing moral aspects of economic practices, and economic influences on morality, but also for the assessment of how economic organisation affects human well-being (Sayers 2004b).
We believe that there are a number of points to explore here in relation to young people and the moral economies of social enterprise. These points are just briefly sketched below, but will be developed in the next few years.
We all makes choices, and have choices to make.
But we don’t all have the same capabilities, backgrounds and resources to bring to bear in making these choices.
Choices always have consequences.
But the consequences of choices made or not made are never the same for different people.
We also don’t, mostly, even often, get to choose the circumstances in which choices emerge, or have to be made.
Many young people, for example, had no influence or impact on the unfolding of the Global Financial Crisis.
Yet many of them now have to make choices about school, further education and training, jobs and work in environments profoundly shaped, still, by those events.
As one example here, governments around the world increasingly pass the cost of further and higher education onto individual young people and their families (in the form of loans, fees and debt) because, it is claimed, governments can no longer ‘afford’ to fund ‘free’ higher education (if they ever did).
In addition, young people are increasingly told that jobs as we know them are disappearing. And, that they need to develop the skills and dispositions that will enable them to make their own jobs, that will enable them to be become enterprising.
And our own University (RMIT), like many others, seeks to develop in young people what it calls ‘enterprise skills’ to making young people Ready for Life and Work!
These are the elements of the ‘choices’ that young people are increasingly told that they must make, that they are told will shape their future life chances, life courses, life choices.
Of course, this demand to be enterprising – this ‘moral obligation’ to make your own work, or suffer the consequences for education and work, for becoming an autonomous adult, for your health and well-being – is something that, possibly, only a limited number of young people are capable of fulfilling.
And it is those young people who, at a particular time in their lives, are less capable of being this ‘kind of person’ (‘enterprising’) that social enterprises are given responsibility for – in managing their ‘transitions’; in promoting their health and well-being; in ‘dealing with’ a variety of issues (employment, housing, criminal justice, substance use) that often identify these young people as ‘marginalised’.
In coming blogposts we will also introduce a number of related ideas, such as the self as enterprise, and the guerilla self, to further develop our interest in the ways in which young people and social enterprises are increasingly made responsible for these matters.
SAYER, A. 2000. Moral economy and political economy. Studies in Political Economy. Spring. pp. 79-103.