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Angela M. Eikenberry

This chapter considers the question: can social enterprise bring about democracy, especially within the context of a governance environment? Governance is part of a neoliberal agenda to advocate for lower taxes, fewer social welfare subsidies, and more private, voluntary and market-based approaches to addressing social problems. Democracy is referred to here not only as participatory and deliberative, but also concerned with democratic or substantive outcomes. The chapter presents trends toward governance and the growth of social enterprise; critiques of this growth, especially in relation to its implications for participatory democracy; and arguments for democratizing social enterprise in response to these critiques. These arguments and the democratic potential of social enterprise are assessed in relation to democratic outcomes. The conclusion is that social enterprise may have the potential to enhance participatory or deliberative democracy, but it is limited in contributing to democratic outcomes in a governance environment.