Social Enterprise in Remote and Rural Communities
Edited by Jane Farmer, Carol Hill and Sarah-Anne Muñoz
Chapter 5: Socially Enterprising Communities: Their Dynamics and Readiness for Service Innovation
Katy Radford and Sally Shortall INTRODUCTION Much of the literature suggests that social enterprises developed by communities continue to have a local focus, either through the provision of local trading and retail operations or of locally based social and welfare services. This mirrors our experience in Northern Ireland where we have been involved in the development of three different types of social enterprise which have remained rooted in diverse rural communities through the O4O: Older People for Older People project (O4O). What is not always included in this literature is a focus on how reliance on local volunteer support can act as a barrier, as well as an enabler, to the success of such enterprises. As we explore this, it is pertinent to also consider the circumstances in which people over the age of 55 have grown older in Northern Ireland; namely, with a legacy of societal conflict and social segregation providing the frame of reference in which people feel able to support themselves and their peers. In this chapter, illustrations from two of the developed O4O community initiatives contribute insights into the gaps in the literature on social enterprise and problematise the premise that social economy businesses by typology are necessarily democratic initiatives. We begin with a brief, critical consideration of the social enterprise literature and note that there remains a considerable lack of data and unresolved definitional issues. Research on social enterprises has moved beyond the business and management disciplines to give more attention to both sociological and...