Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship

Edited by Richard Seymour

Defining ‘social entrepreneurship’ has in the past proved problematic, and debate continues concerning what it does and does not entail and encompass. This unique book frames the debates surrounding the phenomenon and argues that many of the difficulties relating to the study of social entrepreneurship are rooted in methodological issues. Highlighting these issues, the book sets out ideas and implications for researchers using alternative methodologies.
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Chapter 6: Discourse Analysis

Fanny Salignac


Fanny Salignac A discursive approach can inform a researcher interested in social entrepreneurship through the study of how individuals use language to make sense of their reality (Dick, 2004). This focus also offers significant insights into the creations of social realities: ‘Discourse analysts explore how the socially produced ideas and objects that comprise . . . the social world in general are created and maintained through the relationship among discourse, text, and action’ (Phillips et al., 2004, p. 637). This chapter aims to provide you with the basic foundations for conducting discourse analysis in the field of social entrepreneurship. It first presents an overview of the discourse literature and insights from specialists in the field. This is followed by a brief look at its relevance for social entrepreneurship researchers. The main part of the chapter focuses on the provision of a set of guidelines for researchers, drawing on examples in the context of social entrepreneurship research. 6.1 WHAT IS DISCOURSE ANALYSIS? In its most general sense, discourse analysis is concerned with how language is used in specific social contexts (Dick, 2004); it is a tool to understand how a piece of text is constructed. Texts refer to a variety of forms such as, but not limited to, written documents, transcribed interviews, verbal reports and also spoken words and dialogues, art work, symbols and pictures (Fairclaugh, 2003; Phillips et al., 2004). In choosing a discursive approach, discourse analysts explore ‘how structured sets of texts come to function as “reality constructors”, which help constitute the...

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