Grammars of Entrepreneurship

Let me introduce myself, I’m Diego Carbajo, a postdoctoral researcher of the University of the Basque Country (Spain) who is in Melbourne since last year. Currently I’m developing a research project titled The Grammars of Self-entrepreneurship in the Basque Country from an International Perspective in the School of Education at RMIT under the supervision of Professor Peter Kelly. Beyond the specificity of this study case, and based in works such as Peter’s The Self as Enterprise (2013) my project develops the hypothesis of the emergence and stabilisation of a “Grammar of Self-Entrepreneurship” on a global scale. A global grammar that is not posed as a culture or an ideology, but something closer to a discourse, an apparatus or an assemblage that helps us to understand not only how young people are incited to behave and act in certain ways, but how we are induced to perform a certain type of individuality nowadays.

Image obtained from http://www.thelogicalentrepreneur.com

Through a number of upcoming posts I will outline the common elements of some governmental policies about self and social enterprises that connect geographically, culturally and politically distant places such as Victoria (AUSTRALIA), Scotland (UK) and the Basque Country (SPAIN). Following the way paved in previous posts, my aim is to sketch an entry point to the Global Grammars of Self/Social Enterprise. So, while this first contribution is focused on an institutional and descriptive level, the second will be more analytical and it will try to establish some connections between my project and this project on arts based social enterprise. Finally, the third one will be focused on defining the core elements that give shape to the global grammar of entrepreneurship. On the whole, I will explore the following research questions:

  • How the concepts of self and social enterprise have been developed and deployed in various governmental spheres?
  • What kind of governmental circuits do they emerge from and are subject to? Do they have a structure and/or obey any rationale?
  • What kind of uses and meanings have they acquired?
  • How are these concepts downloaded? How is that vocabulary framed in local territories?

Of course, this is a big endeavour for some blog entries. So, I will settle for drafting the core ideas and trends that are important here and will develop them in forthcoming conference publications and journal articles (that will be available here).

A note on the global production of entrepreneurs

First of all it is worthy to note that one of the main agents that contributes to giving reality and continuity (Latour and Woolgar, 1986; Law, 2009, p.249) to entrepreneurship as an international phenomenon through a massive production of statistical data (Foucault, 2009, p.274) is the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Founded in 1999, this international agency operates as a global census of entrepreneurship and produces and circulates a range of indicators of entrepreneurship. In addition, it provides regional analyses, international comparatives and different state rankings that contribute to making entrepreneurship a standardised and measurable global phenomenon (Osborne & Rose, 1999). Its work is not limited to conventional understandings of entrepreneurship and in the last decade its area of action has been expanding quite significantly. For instance, its latest report on social enterprises it shows an evolving sophistication of its measuring tools. Overall, this agency is taken as a trustworthy data source by academics, journalists and diverse agencies, but more importantly, it is taken as a reference by policy makers, states and organisations such as the OECD and the European Union that need to measure quantitatively, and to some extent, performatively produce and standardise, entrepreneurship (Law, 2009, p.248). My intention here is not to go into great detail about GEM, but to take it into account as an international agent in the production of academic, social and political representations of entrepreneurship.

The EU and Enterprise: European policies on entrepreneurship

Although there are differences in its member countries, the European Union (EU) establishes the foundations and the directives for the employment, entrepreneurship and social enterprise policies implemented by member states. It would take too long to index and explain here all the complex network of policies that have been developed since the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, but it is important to note that the current programmes are a continuation of that established by the 2000 Lisbon European Council (Ginesta, 2013).

On the one hand, regarding entrepreneurship, the Lisbon council proposed active incentive mechanisms for entrepreneurship —including private economic initiatives— as drivers of European economic long-term growth. As Ginesta (2013, p.60) shows, the early 2003 Green Paper on Entrepreneurship in Europe highlighted the need to develop comprehensive programs to promote entrepreneurship on an individual, business and society level. The results and measures taken after those initiatives can be seen in different action plans but above all, in the Small Business Act approved in 2008 and reviewed in 2011. Both Acts are the foundations of the current Entrepreneurship 2020 Action plan: Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe, which presents three main objectives:

  1. Developing entrepreneurial education and training
  2. Creating the right business environment (ecosystem)
  3. Identifying and promoting role models and reaching out to specific groups (—unemployed— young people women, seniors, immigrants, etc).

All of them seek, among other things, a far-reaching cultural change to make entrepreneurship the engine of economic growth in Europe (Op. Cit. p.4). It is apparent that these policies are based on a strong market oriented rationale where entrepreneurship is directly associated to job-rich recovery and prosperity —assumption that is becoming as arguable as the one that states that economic growth automatically creates jobs. Indeed, as all of these objectives are aimed at individual entrepreneurs, and at Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), they create a sense, often ambiguous, that an enterprise as an institutional product is both a personal quality of (initiative), and/or that individuals contain the qualities of an enterprise (Armstrong, 2005, p.6). The logic that articulates the “grammar” I want to refer to is evident in the European Commission Website:

Europe’s economic growth and jobs depend on its ability to support the growth of enterprises. Entrepreneurship creates new companies, opens up new markets, and nurtures new skills. The most important sources of employment in the EU are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The Commission’s objective is to encourage people to become entrepreneurs and also make it easier for them to set up and grow their businesses.(Op. cit.)

As an early blog post also suggested, the understanding of entrepreneurship that this Act establishes is close to an attitude, a skill and to a moral disposition:

Entrepreneurship is an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation, risk taking, ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. (Op. cit. European Commission Website)

But more importantly, this definition is wide and ambiguous enough to include in it those self-employees, social enterprises and all kind of collectives (especially young people) who, after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) are defined by various EU agencies as a priority vulnerable group that require urgent intervention.

On the other hand, with regard to Social Enterprises, even though policies oriented to the ‘Third Sector’ go back to the late 1980s, the core document, where most of the current European policies are located, is the Social Business Initiative published in 2011. For our purposes, it is interesting to note how social enterprises are defined in the web page of the European Commission and how the adjective of entrepreneurial enables us to situate both entrepreneurship (as a disposition, but also as a particular type of person) and social enterprises in the same analytical framework:

A social enterprise is an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders. It operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative fashion and uses its profits primarily to achieve social objectives. (Op. cit.)

The call for persons to be, or to become entrepreneurial is a crosscutting issue in all the different political programs regarding employment (Keune & Serrano, 2014), and gives shape to an apparatus (Foucault, 1980, p.194-195) that has been analysed in several works (Kelly, 2013; Bröckling, 2016). This notion of apparatus is specially evident if we take into account the wide range of measures, materials, activities, experts and good practice guides, that can be found the European Commission website section dedicated to social enterprises —to be analysed in my next post.

In this frame, youth becomes a paradigmatic case of these governmental processes [close to a biopolitical program (Foucault, 2008)] when we identify arguments that suggest that entrepreneurial learning promises the most significant and important solution to improve young people’s employability (Serrano & Martín, 2017). As posed in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan: Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe:

Whether or not they go on to found businesses or social enterprises, young people who benefit from entrepreneurial learning, develop business knowledge and essential skills and attitudes including creativity, initiative, tenacity, teamwork, understanding of risk and a sense of responsibility. This is the entrepreneurial mind-set that helps entrepreneurs transform ideas into action and also significantly increases employability. (Op. cit. p.6)

It is important to keep in mind that even though the notion of entrepreneurship has a trajectory of at least twenty years in the architecture of the employment policies of the European Union (Bröckling, 2015, p.11), it was not until the GFC that the concepts of self-entrepreneurship and social enterprises were definitively fostered as a solution to the high unemployment rates among European young people. The way in which the introductory paragraph of the previously quoted Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan defines the GFC —as a catalyst, even an accelerator— provides further evidence of this ‘governmental investment’ in particular understandings of entrepreneurship:

Before the on-going economic and financial crisis, the European economy faced structural challenges to its competitiveness and growth, and obstacles to entrepreneurship. Many of these persist, but the crisis has also been a catalyst for deep change and restructuring. (Op. Cit. p.3)

In other words, the concepts, the core ideas and the objectives of these policies were already evident before the GFC happened, but it seems that they couldn’t have been fully developed and implemented until the GFC and subsequent EU sanctioned austerity measures definitively altered the previous labour market regulations or shrunk the functions of the Welfare State —I´ll develop this ideas further in the next post. A closer look to how the notions of self-entrepreneur and social-enterprises have landed in the Basque Country might help to ground these reflections.

Forced Landings of concepts and measures: The Basque Country and Entrepreneurship

Two of the multiple problems that the EU is facing are continuing high unemployment rates, and employment precarity among young people. In the case of Spain, these indicators were scandalously high during the GFC that began in 2008, especially for the young (Eurofound, 2015).

Youth (15-29) unemployment rates (%) evolution by country. Compilation based on Eurostat (2017) and Basque Youth Observatory (2017).

According to Eurostat (2017), the rate of youth unemployment (in the 15 to 29 age range) in Spain reached its peak of 42.4% in 2013. In 2016, the youth unemployment rate of 33.3% was, along with other Mediterranean countries, still one of the highest in Europe, over twice that of the EU-28 average. In the case of the Basque Country, these rates were lower. According to the Basque Youth Observatory, while the peak of youth unemployment was reached in 2014 with a rate of 29.5%, in 2017 it dropped to 15.1%. It is also worth noting that even though the unemployment rates in Spain’s are lower nowadays, the temporary employment rate in 2016 stood at 57.4%, the highest in Europe, in contrast to the EU-28 average of 32.5% (Eurostat, 2017).

The Spanish government transferred responsibility for policies affecting young people or employment matters to the Autonomous Communities —including the Basque Country and Catalonia— but the central government still acts as a coordinator and proponent of the EU employment public policy initiatives, especially in terms of active employment policies. Nevertheless, in regions such as the Basque Country it is quite easy to find how the local policies and programs about entrepreneurship and social enterprises closely align with the directives of the European Union without any mediation of the state government. The Basque Country Government’s general plan, based in its own Law for the Support of Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses, has been recently updated until 2020 with a budget of 295 million euros. The determination of the Government with regard to the broad notion of entrepreneurship we have previously mentioned is clear, even though, according to GEM, in 2016 the Basque Country had one of the worst TEA (Total Entrepreneurial Activity) scores of the last decades at 3.3% (Hoyos et al. 2017).

The low rate of entrepreneurs in Basque Country contrasts with the massive competitions for different positions in the Basque Government Institutions as officials and civil servants. Bilbao Exhibition Centre, photography by Alfredo Aldai/EFE.

The Basque Government seems to be concerned and aware both of such ‘resistances’, and that it is competing with other European regions for this niche —and the resulting European funding. As a result, the last update for the entrepreneurship program has been presented with the main goal of positioning Basque Country as a privileged place to create and develop all kinds of new entrepreneurial initiatives.

The current program involves most of the local administrative institutions and a wide range of public and private agents. It includes, among others; A) conventional economic measures focused on facilitating the access to the market, to financing and to investments; B) more flexible taxation and regulations; and C), a wide range of support programs, services and infrastructures. However, is worth noting that in regard to the non-economic measures, special effort is made in all educational and training institutions (implying young people) on fostering a positive attitude towards entrepreneurs and the values of entrepreneurship. Overall, and in line with the European directives, the main intention of these policies is to ‘recover, generate and reinforce an entrepreneurial culture through generating an ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’. In this sense, it is interesting just how the memorandum of the current law builds a narrative that forces an essentialist notion of (Basque) identity to fit with the contemporary values and characteristics of entrepreneurship:

The Basque Country has always been a land of enterprising people. The most outstanding values of these have been the desire for innovation, the creation of added value and openness to the world. With their ambition they managed to make the Basque Country one of the most prosperous areas of the State and of Europe. Entrepreneurs have been present in the history of the Basque Country since historiography exists. Since the Middle Ages, Basques and Basques have demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit in sectors such as iron-works, mechanics and international trade, among others. [Translated from the Law for the Support of Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses]

In this frame, and mainly focused on enterprise generation, social entrepreneurship appears as a variation of entrepreneurship linked to the notion of social innovation. Even though the earlier Basque Government program partially reproduces the European Commission one, a lower level in the Basque administration structure gives some hints about how it is understood and applied. A quick reference to the Provincial Council of Bizkaia 2017 call for funding innovative and social enterprises, shows that all of them have to acquire, if not the form, at least the outcomes and ‘attitudes’ of a conventional enterprise. Some of the limitations of this sort of approach have been sketched elsewhere in this blog. But I would like to stress that beyond the social values that some social-enterprises might look for (justice, equality, integration, sustainability, etc.), they are mainly valued and judged by the ‘survival’ criteria settled by the market. Or if not, they will be evaluated as potential substitutes or externalized ‘resources’ of the Welfare State. For instance, one of the indicators to measure the social impact of the social enterprises in a call of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia 2017 is quite clear in this regard:

“Administration savings for the employment created in people at risk of exclusion” (translated from Op. cit)

In this sense, in a very explicit way, we see particular dimensions of the moral economies of social enterprise come into view – something that the team wrote about in a previous blog post. We see both the moral obligation that governments create for young people to be and become entrepreneurial. And, alongside this, we see an ‘investment’ in the promise of social enterprise framed by a sense that social enterprises, in taking on these responsibilities, will enable ‘savings’ in the State’s obligations to develop and administer labour market programs and welfare payments. I will return to some of these concerns in my next post.

References:

ARMSTRONG, P. 2005. Critique of entrepreneurship : people and policy, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

BRÖCKLING, U. 2016. The Entrepreneurial Self. Fabricating a New Type of Subject, London, SAGE.

EUROFOUND. 2015. Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: Values, attitudes, policies, Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union.

EUROSTAT. 2017. ‘Youth unemployment rate by sex, age and country of birth’, accessed at Eurostat http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/youth/data/database on March 30, 2018.

FOUCAULT, M. 1980. Power/Knowledge. Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, New York, Pantheon Books.

FOUCAULT, M. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics. Lectures at the Collége de France, 1978-79, New-York, Palgrave-Macmillan.

FOUCAULT, M. 2009. Security, Territory, Population. Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977-78, London, Palgarve-MacMilllan.

SAIZ, M., HOYOS, J., GONZÁLEZ-PERNÍA, J., PEÑA, I., GONZÁLEZ, N., GUERRERO, M. & URBANO, D. 2017. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco. Informe Ejecutivo 2016, Bilbao, Publicaciones de la Universidad de Deusto.

KELLY, P. 2013. The Self as Enterprise: Foucault and the Spirit of 21st Century Capitalism, Surrey, Ashgate/Grower.

KEUNE, M., & SERRANO, A. 2014. Deconstructing Flexicurity and Developing Alternative Approaches, London, Routledge.

LATOUR, B. & WOOLGAR, S. 1986. Laboratory life : the construction of scientific facts, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.

LAW, J. 2009. Seeing Like a Survey. Cultural Sociology, 3, 239-256.

OSBORNE, T. & ROSE, N. 1999. Do the social sciences create phenomena?: the example of public opinion research. The British Journal of Sociology, 50, 367-396.

SERRANO, A. & MARTÍN, P. 2017. From ‘Employab-ility’ to ‘Entrepreneurial-ity’ in Spain: youth in the spotlight in times of crisis. Journal of Youth Studies, 20, 798-821.

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Situational Analysis – Part 1

Getty images

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, digital 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.

Grounded theory 

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.

References

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.

Call for participants: Australian Social Enterprise Project, RMIT and Melbourne University

Are you a stakeholder/manager/coordinator/teacher in an Australian Social Enterprise? Do you run programs that have an arts (fashion, dance, visual arts, creative writing, crafts, drama) component? We invite you to participate in our research project funded by the Australian Research Council.

Participation will involve a one-on-one interview of approximately 1 hour  (or less) in length with a member of the project team (listed in the above flyer).

The purpose of the research is to understand how social enterprises engaged in arts activities manage education, training and work transitions, and support the health and well-being of young people.

Please contact Perri Campbell for further information at Perri.Campbell@rmit.edu.au


 

 

Call for US participants: supporting young people’s transitions through community engagement program


The purpose of this research is to understand how Social Enterprises and Community Organisations build social justice/community concerns into their education and employment programs for young people, and how young people shape future career aspirations with their community in mind.

We are looking for people located on the West Coast of the US to participate in our research project.

If you part of a social enterprise or community organization that offers programs to young people or you are participating in a program and are interested in sharing your experiences, or would like more information please email Perri.Campbell@rmit.edu.au

Participation will involve a one-on-one interview of approximately 1 hour (or less) in length with Dr Perri Campbell (RMIT University, Australia), Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI), the University of California Berkeley, between the 1st of October and 30th of November, 2017.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Perri

Research Fellow

ARC Discovery Project: Arts Based Social Enterprise and Marginalised Young People’s Transitions, School of Education.

Twitter: @Perri_Campbell and Social Enterprise Project @YouthASE

https://www.rmit.edu.au/contact/staff-contacts/academic-staff/c/campbell-dr-perri

 

Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector – FASES

Social enterprises are organisations that:

  • Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit;
  • Trade to fulfil their mission;
  • Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade;
  • and Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission (Barraket et al, 2016a: 3).

In this post we have a look at the Social Traders and Swinburne University reports on the ‘Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector’ (FASES) research project. As we mentioned in our previous post there are a number of factors that support and limit the growth of the social enterprise (SE) sector in Australia, and the development and impact of SEs. The following summary from the 2016 FASES report provides a good snapshot of what’s going on in the Australian SE sector: 

Overall findings

(Barraket et al, 2016b: 9).

In their 2010 FASES report Barraket et al (2010: 8) argued that little was known about Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector due in part to a lack of self-identifying among SEs; not all SEs operating as such labelled themselves as such. They said:

… it is clear that the language of social enterprise does not yet have distinct meaning for many civil society organisations and businesses in this country; more than 150 organisations commenced the survey and were filtered out on the basis that they were either not for profits that did not trade or profit maximising businesses that were not led by public or community benefit (Barraket et al, 2010: 36).

SEs also take many different forms and operate under different legal structures which means they are not always visible in the same ways as businesses in the private sector. Since 2010 the FASES project has identified a number of key facts and defining qualities illuminating the SE sector.

According to the 2010 and 2016 Full Reports (Barraket et al, 2010: 3 and Barraket et al, 2016a: 3) there are more than 20,000 SE operating in Australia with diverse missions and beneficiaries. The most popular mission identified in the report was:

… creating meaningful employment opportunities for people from a specific group, and developing new solutions to social, cultural, economic or environmental problems.

Interestingly, this is different from the 2010 report findings which identified ‘creating opportunities for people to participate in their community’ as the most popular mission (Barraket et al, 2016a: 5). The growing interest in employment is no surprise given the growing unemployment rate in Australia, which particularly affects young people. The Trading Economics website reports a decrease in the youth unemployment rate between May and April of 2017, however young people are enduring the unwanted effects and consequences of a lack of employment options and meaningful full time work.

Almost one-third of Australian young people are unemployed or underemployed, the highest level in 40 years, according to a report released on Monday.

The rate of underemployment – now at 18% – has become an entrenched feature of the youth labour market, according to the Generation Stalled report, commissioned by the Brotherhood of St Laurence (Davidson, 2017 March).

And…

A lack of full-time job prospects and an increasingly tense world has left a generation of Australia’s young people feeling bleak about their future (Clarke, 2017 February).

SEs reflect social and economic concerns as they operate mostly in local and regional markets with the aim of fulfilling missions that resonate at local and regional levels. There are fewer SEs that operate in international markets or aim to address international issues (Barraket et al, 2016a: 4). This finding was reflected in our own modest search of Arts based social enterprises in Australia. We found that when SEs do focus their attention on international issues, they often adopt a ‘Fair Trade’ ethic and source or support the import of handcrafted goods to be sold in Australia. Rarely were there programs (i.e. Transitional Labour Market Programs) attached to these SEs.

Similarly to 2010, and mirroring the mainstream economy, the sector includes small, medium and large enterprises, with the majority in our sample being small. The 2016 study again finds social enterprises are involved in all forms of economic production, including retail, wholesale, and manufacturing. However, they operate primarily within the service economy, with 68% of the sample providing services for a fee (Barraket et al, 2016a: 4).

In 2010 organisations participating in the FASES research project were asked to report on their income and expenditure (for the 2007-2008 financial year). The reported annual turnover ranged from zero to $68 million (with a total reported turnover within the sample of 168 organisations of $477 193 850). In 2016 that annual turnover ranged from zero to $199 million (from a sample of 189 enterprises) (Barraket et ala, 2016: 22).

In terms of growth and development opportunities, the FASES 2016 data shows a growth in ‘new entrants to the field, with 33.8% of the study’s sample being between two and five years old’. While development opportunities lie in: ‘social procurement; quasi-market development; and opportunities to grow impacts through supply chain development’ (Barraket et al, 2016a: 3). These modes of development are supported by the Victorian Social Enterprise Strategy which gives particular attention to social procurement and the ways in which SEs can contribute to and fit into the market economy. We discussed our concerns with this trend in earlier posts

Finally, they identified a number external and internal factors constraining the growth of social business and impact in Australia. Limiting external factors include:

  1. a patchy ecosystem for social enterprise start-up and growth, including limited geographic spread of intermediaries and insufficient opportunities for peer to peer learning and development;
  2. the continuing piecemeal awareness of and support for social enterprise development by Australian governments;
  3. and, limited public awareness of social enterprises and their work.
  4. the lack of suitable funding for SEs at different stages of development (Barraket et al, 2016a: 5).

In terms of internal constraints the 2016 report identified:

  1. organisational governance as both a key enabler and a key inhibitor
    of social enterprise performance.
  2. Accessing suitably skilled staff and adapting workforce profiles as
    organisations grew and changed was also identified as a problem (Barraket et al, 2016a: 4).

These barriers have consequences for the Impact social enterprises make, that is the effectiveness of their work and how they are able to carry out their mission.

 

Supporting the Potential of Social Enterprises 

The 2016 report analysis suggests a number of ways in which the SES can be supported in pursuit of their missions and social impact. These following recommendations are informed by workshops with SEs:

1. Policy development

When asked about how the SE sector in Australia could be supported and the role of the government, more than 80% of respondents thought that government policy support would create new opportunities and generate growth. Activating SE though ‘traditional procurement laws of government’ was suggested (Barraket et al, 2016b: 15).

2. Building a more cohesive ecosystem

Better support during the start up phase was called for which would include: greater availability of intermediaries; more opportunities for peer-to-peer learning; cohesive and continuing support from the Australian Government; greater public awareness of social enterprises and their work (Barraket et al, 2016b: 16).

3. Developing appropriate and accessible forms of finance

Many respondents called for better, more suitable financial support at different stages of development. Because of their location some SEs are not able to access funding, particularly those outside metropolitan areas.

(Barraket et al, 2016a: 9)

The right financial support at the right time can make a big difference (Barraket et al, 2016b: 17).

… philanthropy appears to be playing a proportionately more significant – albeit still relatively small – role in financially supporting social enterprises, particularly those in start-up development since 2010. This may suggest a growing awareness of social enterprise by philanthropy, and the extension of some partnerships between philanthropy and not for profit organisations that are now exploring social enterprise as an option for increasing their impacts or improving their financial viability (Barraket et al, 2016a: 32).

4. Impact measurement tools

While impact measurement is largely regarded as a contested and complex issues for SEs, Barraket et al (2016: 18) suggest that more accessible, comparable and affordable impact measurement tools are needed to help articulate the social impact of SEs (Barraket et al, 2016b: 18).

Additional survey research suggests the costs of undertaking impact measurement are prohibitive for many social enterprises (Barraket et al, 2016a: 31).

Continuing lack of convention around measuring social impacts, and lack of  availability of affordable options to do this work, was a frequently cited constraint on social enterprises both understanding and extending their positive impacts; practice in this regard appears to have remained stable over the last two waves of FASES.

Major opportunities identified for increasing social (or environmental) impacts of social enterprises included ethical supply chain development – including between social enterprises – and replication or, less frequently cited, scaling up of social enterprises (Barraket et al, 2016a: 32).

 

References

Barraket, J., M. O. Collyer,  and Anderson, H. (2010) ‘Finding Australia’s Social
Enterprise Sector: Final Report’, Social Traders and the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies June, 2010. Available from: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/about-social-enterprise/fases-and-other-research/social-enterprise-in-australia/

Barraket, J., Mason, C., and Blain, B. (2016a) ‘Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise
Sector 2016: Final Report’, Social Traders and the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne June, 2016. Available from: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/about-social-enterprise/fases-and-other-research/social-enterprise-in-australia/

Barraket, J., Mason, C., and Blain, B. (2016b) ‘Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise
Sector 2016: Analysis’, Social Traders and the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne June, 2016. Available from: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/about-social-enterprise/fases-and-other-research/social-enterprise-in-australia/

Clarke, C. (2017) ‘Millennial survey shows youth feeling aggrieved, frustrated by the way country is being run’, ABC News, 8 February 2017. Available from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-08/millennials-worried-about-the-future/8250250

Davidson, H. (2017) ‘Third of Australian youth have no job or are underemployed, report finds’, The Guardian, March 2017. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/27/third-of-australian-youth-have-no-job-or-are-underemployed-report-finds

Finding arts based social enterprises in Australia

QArt Studio

Many social enterprises (SEs) in Australia have been cataloged by Social Traders (est. 2008) who are a social enterprise development organisation. Social Traders describe themselves as:

Australia’s leading social enterprise development organisation, we work to break the cycle of disadvantage and build resilience in Australian communities.  We believe business can do good and that social enterprise generates benefit by creating employment, providing access to services and strengthening local communities.  Using our expert knowledge and partnerships we help organisations of all shapes and sizes find better ways to achieve and contribute to sustainable social impact and change.

Our vision is a world where the market is used to deliver sustainable social outcomes. We achieve this by empowering social enterprises to transform communities throughout Australia.

Social Traders have participated in large scale research projects with Professor Jo Barraket, including the Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) project (2010) – the first CENSUS of social enterprise in Australia. They recently released FASES 2016.

In 2009 Social Traders partnered with the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at Queensland University of Technology to define social enterprise and, for the first time in Australia, to identify and map the social enterprise sector: its scope, its variety of forms, its reasons for trading, its financial dimensions, and the individuals and communities social enterprises aim to benefit.

Led by Associate Professor Jo Barraket, Australia’s leading social enterprise academic, FASES produced its first report in June 2010. Since then the findings of this research have been downloaded over 15,000 times, and have played a critical role in supporting social enterprise development in Australia.

Social Traders’ online directory of almost 5,000 Australian SEs is called the ‘Social Enterprise Finder’. The aim of the SE finder is to connect buyers with SEs:

… The Finder enables consumers and procurement officers to easily locate and support businesses that benefit the community.

For social enterprise operators, The Finder is the gateway for entering the buyer markets that Social Traders is actively developing in the consumer, corporate and government sectors. It is also a free resource for raising awareness and increasing sales.

Upon registration, social enterprises are certified, which verifies that they exist for a social purpose, they earn the majority of their income through trade and they reinvest the majority of their profit in their social mission.

Certified social enterprises may be entered onto the Finder and subsequently invited to become part of Social Traders’ supplier network.

Using the Social Traders ‘Social Enterprise Finder’ we have compiled a list of arts based social enterprises that offer programs to young people in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The data base allows you to search each State by specific categories. We searched 5 different categories including: Arts and Culture; Clothing and Personal Services; Education and Training; Employment; Media and Communications; Printing and Publishing. SEs relevant to our project showed up mainly in the two first search categories: Arts and Culture; Clothing and Personal Services. The SEs we identified in these categories also showed up again in other category searches, particularly Education and Training, and Employment.

Throughout our search we found that:

  • Across the three States the Media and Communications search category showed many radio stations offering volunteering opportunities, but this was not necessarily linked to education and training. There were community organisations in this category, but none had a youth/arts focus with an attached training or educational program. 
  • We identified many social enterprise service organisations and businesses that aim to secure funding for SEs and assist with branding and advertising opportunities (see for instance, Futurekind). These are Social Enterprise intermediaries and don’t necessarily run training/education/work programs.

Victoria

  • Victoria had the most Arts Based Social Enterprises, followed by Sydney then Queensland. This fits with FASES findings which shows a strong concentration of SEs in Victoria:

    ‘Social enterprise locations’ (Barraket et al, 2016: 14).
  • The Arts and Culture category revealed the most ABSEs (8), while the Education and Training category showed 5 ABSEs.
  • Within the Printing and Publishing category the only ABSE was a creativity and literacy organisation called 100 Story Building. The rest were either commercial or charitable organisations that do not run training and education programs but donate proceeds to different causes, or develop their product in sustainable conditions.

New South Wales:

  • No ABSEs with training and education programs showed up in the Employment search category.
  • The Media and Communications category showed mostly radio stations along with a couple of universities (i.e. University of Newcastle). Some radio stations considered themselves community organisations and offered opportunities for volunteers.
  • Employment and training programs offered business skills training and skills thought to increase individuals ‘employability’, for instance processing mail and operating machinery.

Queensland

  • A search of the Employment category showed no arts based youth programs, but lots of hospitality training programs and employment/workforce service providers, service programs for differently abled people, and community organisations.
  • There were no ABSEs in the Media and Communications or Printing and Publishing categories.
  • Once again, Printing and Publishing showed mostly commercial or charitable organisations that do not run programs but donate proceeds to different causes, or their product in manufactured sustainably.

Although many ABSEs were categorised under ‘Arts’ this does not necessarily mean that they involve participation in creative processes. A SE may be thought of as creative if it is selling art products which have been sourced from countries around the world.

Many social enterprises stated that their mission was to turn people’s lives around whether this was through the program they offered or the business they operated. Many SEs do not offer particular education and training programs but train people on the job, this is the case for stores that stock ethically produced products (i.e. Just Earth) or recycled clothing. Or, for instance, Fitted for Work (via the Conscious Closet Organisation) train women to work in their shop and sell clothes, while offering the service of preparing women for work with mentoring and work appropriate clothes (and more…).

Many SEs are hopeful that their business model will become the norm in the years to come, and that their participation in the SE sector will alter the way people think about the production and consumption of goods and services. This logic of being a ‘change maker’ is expressed differently by different SEs – some focus on making a change in people’s lives, others focus on the broader project of social change. (In coming posts we will discuss the logic of SEs with the ideas of program logic and theory of change).

As we’ve mentioned in earlier posts  SE strategy documents produced recently by Victoria and Scotland strongly support the idea of growing SEs and pushing business toward ‘doing good’ or being good global citizens. The Social Enterprise Finder shows many Social Enterprises using different models to achieve their social missions, from dance and art studios offering programs and opportunities to perform and sell art works, to community radio stations and shops selling hand made ethical and fairtrade products.

Since the creation of the Social Enterprise Finder Barraket et al (2016) have identified 20,000 SEs in Australia. The recent report ‘Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector’ is  joint authored by Jo Barraket, Chris Mason and Blake Blain (Swinburne University) and Social Traders. The report identifies major constraints on the development of the SE field, including:

A number of issues related to public policy and regulation were cited as barriers to
social enterprises growing and/or fulfilling their potential. Local government was
viewed as having a particular role to play in market development for social enterprise, and state and federal governments in providing enabling regulation, supporting organisational development, and stimulating innovation in policy design (2016b: 13).

We will pick up on these issues in our next post when we discuss the FASES 2016 report and analysis documents.

References

Barraket, J., M. O. Collyer,  and Anderson, H. (2010) ‘Finding Australia’s Social
Enterprise Sector: Final Report’, Social Traders and the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies June, 2010. Available from: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/about-social-enterprise/fases-and-other-research/social-enterprise-in-australia/

Barraket, J., Mason, C., and Blain, B. (2016) ‘Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise
Sector 2016: Final Report’, Social Traders and the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne June, 2016. Available from: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/about-social-enterprise/fases-and-other-research/social-enterprise-in-australia/

 

 

 

PhD position open – RMIT Arts Scholarship

RMIT-hands

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.

img_9028
The Social Studio

 

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 admissions for information on the PhD program and how to write your research proposal.
How to prepare your proposal:

https://www.rmit.edu.au/research/phds-and-other-research-degrees/how-to-apply/step-5-prepare-your-proposal

 

Entry requirements

RMIT admits applicants on the basis of their demonstrated capacity to conduct independent research.

All applicants must meet the minimum entry requirements: http://www.rmit.edu.au/research/phds-and-other-research-degrees/how-to-apply/step-2-entry-requirements.

International applicants must also meet the minimum English language requirement: http://www.rmit.edu.au/content/rmit-ui/en/study-with-us/international-students/apply-to-rmit-international-students/entry-requirements/english-requirements.html.

Places are competitive and subject to suitability of proposed research.

As it can take a number of months for a program application to be assessed, we strongly recommend you submit your application as soon as possible.

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The next application round – for 2018 scholarship places – will be open from July to October 2017. For updates on the application process and key dates please consult the Research Scholarships website http://www.rmit.edu.au/research/phds-and-other-research-degrees/scholarships-and-support

How to Apply http://www.rmit.edu.au/research/phds-and-other-research-degrees/how-to-apply

 

Extra info!

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.

 

Our team

The project team consists of:

Professor Peter Kelly, Director Centre for Education, Training and Work in the Asian Century, School of Education, RMIT University, peter.kelly@rmit.edu.au

Dr Grace McQuilten, Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow, Centre for Art, Society and Transformation, School of Art, RMIT University, grace.mcquilten@rmit.edu.au

Associate Professor Kim Humphery, Design and Social Context, Centre for Applied Social Research, School of Global Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, kim.humphery@rmit.edu.au

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,  djwarr@unimelb.edu.au

Dr Perri Campbell, ARC Discovery Project Research Fellow, Centre for Education, Training and Work in the Asian Century, School of Education, RMIT University, perri.campbell@rmit.edu.au

We also post updates via Twitter, you can follow us @YouthASE

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:

img_9314
(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.

Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy – Part 1

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 future trends 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.

Political changes: 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’.

 

Young People and the Moral Economies of Social Enterprise

Los_Angeles._Air_view_Sep.2,_2005
By Andy – LOS ANGELES (CREATIVE COMMONS PROJECT), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7260509

 

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.

These projects are outlined below.

Jo Pike and Peter Kelly (2014) The Moral Geographies of Children, Young People and Food: Beyond Jamie’s School Dinners, Palgrave, London

MORAL GEOGRAPHIES 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.

Peter Kelly and Jo Pike (editors) (2017) Neo-Liberalism and Austerity: The Moral Economies of Young People’s Health and Well-being, Palgrave, London.

Neo-Liberalism and Austerity 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.

This is something that the Foundation for Young Australians has published a number of reports on.

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.

References

SAYER, A. 2000. Moral economy and political economy. Studies in Political Economy. Spring. pp. 79-103.

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

SAYER, A. 2004b. Agendas for Moral Economy. Moral Economy: Agendas for the Future. Workshop held on July 6th 2004, at the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YD, U.K.