The focus of this chapter is to examine to what degree, in the context of transitional or authoritarian political regimes, social enterprise might lead to democratization of (civil) society more broadly. The literature suggests that we might expect social enterprises to have limited independence in such a context; thus, the best we might hope for is to encourage social enterprises to provide meaningful participation and identification with others—the minimum necessary to resist authoritarianism and lead to democratization. Theories and empirical evidence is limited mostly to western, democratic countries, but suggests that social enterprises may be able to do this to some degree if they emphasize their sociality or relational and emancipatory aspects over commercial goals. Future research should examine connections between social enterprise and active participation and identification in transitional and authoritarian countries.
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.