An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship

An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship

Voices, Preconditions, Contexts

Edited by Rafeal Ziegler

This timely book sets social entrepreneurship in a historical context, from its philanthropic beginnings in the Victorian era to the present day, against the backdrop of contemporary global capitalism.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Voices, Preconditions, Contexts

Rafael Ziegler

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, development studies, development studies, social entrepreneurship, politics and public policy, social entrepreneurship, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, social policy in emerging countries


Rafael Ziegler The danger of an uncritical and exclusive promotion of a free and market-based (social) system is evident. There are domains where the state has a duty to take action and to ensure the basic security of its citizens. But without a permanent input to the state system of new ideas from outside, even this legitimate domain can do more harm than good. (Judy Korn, Chapter 3 in this volume, p. 51) Social entrepreneurship has become a source of hope, but we are like water-tap users who know little about the origin of the source. Social entrepreneurship is said to be made of ideas that are tried out rather than proclaimed, ideas that are pushed through by initiatives belonging to individuals rather than multinational mega-organisations, ideas that are proposed in languages that are culturally diverse and not necessarily professionally polished, ideas that speak of pervasive social inequalities and exclusions, of ecological problems and risks, and ideas that do not speak of these issues as inevitable predicaments but as challenges that call for societal transformations. Who or what makes all this possible? Social entrepreneurs are said to have innovative solutions to pressing social problems; they are characterised as ambitious and persistent; they are said not to rely on business and government for the realisation of their ideas, and to aim at wide-scale, systemic change.1 These social entrepreneurs are promoted by support organisations, the media, companies and policy-makers. They have become increasingly familiar, branded and politicised actors. How has this happened...