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
As we have discussed in previous posts, social enterprises develop a social ‘mission’ which often includes a focus on community and belonging and, as such, have been identified as a way of engaging marginalised young people and supporting their transition into the workforce through ethical, socially aware frameworks (Humphery, 2010; Kelly et al, 2015). This post is about research we recently carried out in the US (September – October in 2017).
We looked at how and why community concerns are taken up by the social enterprise sector, and how young people are encouraged to imagine their future, their sense of self and employment prospects in relation to community concerns.
First of all, we would like to say a big thank you to those organisations in the US who participated in the research project, Supporting young people’s transitions through community engagement programs. The aim of this project was to establish relationships, which we hope will be long lasting, and to understand how social enterprises and community organisations in the US engage young people in education and employment programs.
During this research the need for an international youth focused network for social enterprise and community organisations became apparent. We have responded by developing the Global Youth Social Enterprise Network (twitter @GlobalYSEN) which will combine research and practise based knowledge transfers.
We also looked at how organisations build social justice and community concerns into their education and employment programs for young people. We think of this in terms of two key questions:
How do people participating in and managing social enterprise and community programs engage with community?
How is community engagement connected to employment, training and young people’s transitions?
The interviews carried out have provide a great deal of knowledge about the transitional programs offered to young people on the West Coast, and how community engagement and social justice issues play a significant role in their design. Perri and the team will be working with and analysing this interview material over the next year, as we begin carrying out interviews in Australia with social enterprise organisations.
At this stage it is clear that community concerns, politics and history, culture and social justice issues provide organisations with a range of resources and reasons for doing what they do. Social justice missions, for instance, supporting the mental and physical health and well-being of young people, are communicated to participants through the environment created by organisations. Different programs engage with their community particular ways to address specific issues. This type of engagement relies on a deep understanding of complex and inter-twined social, economic, class, race, and gendered issues.
Many of the organisations we spoke to shared a strong interest in the creative arts and music. While job readiness programs were available to participants, pathways into musical and digital industries were popular.
We will discuss these research experiences further over the next couple of posts.
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.
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
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.
ARC Discovery Project: Arts Based Social Enterprise and Marginalised Young People’s Transitions, School of Education.
Twitter: @Perri_Campbell and Social Enterprise Project @YouthASE
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:
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).
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:
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;
the continuing piecemeal awareness of and support for social enterprise development by Australian governments;
and, limited public awareness of social enterprises and their work.
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:
organisational governance as both a key enabler and a key inhibitor
of social enterprise performance.
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.
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).
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 enterprisesthat 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 intermediariesand don’t necessarily run training/education/work programs.
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:
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.
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.
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/
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
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’.