This commentary reflects on the two chapters in the section on ‘social entrepreneurship, relationality and the possible’. The chapters push at our understandings of social entrepreneurship. They start by taking a relational view of the world, exploring the importance of the relationships between people, and between people and ‘things’. In so doing they provide insights into social entrepreneurship as a social change practice not so much for finding accommodations in what is already present but for shifting the frame of what is thinkable and doable. They also document strategies for social change while also recognizing that social change is an unpredictable and uneven process that involves responding to the unexpected. Finally, the chapters invite reflection on the contribution of social research to the social change process by demonstrating how social research can be oriented towards ushering in the new, an orientation that is captured in the notion of research as a performative practice. This commentary takes up these themes of relationality, social change and research orientation.
This chapter overviews the diverse economies framing of the enterprise, a framing that is founded on two distinguishing features. First there is the understanding of class as a process of producing, appropriating and distributing surplus labour; and second there is the use of a ‘weak theory’ perspective. What results is the recognition of enterprise diversity such that the economic landscape is populated with a range of non-capitalist, capitalist and more-than-capitalist enterprises. In this diversity there are enterprises that are producing, appropriating and distributing surplus labour in ways that take into account the well-being of people and the planet. These ethical commitments can be widened and deepened through political action that targets class dynamics within the enterprise and the broader factors that provide the conditions of existence for enterprise operations. The diverse economies framing thus helps to position enterprises as having a crucial role in building a more equitable and environmentally sustainable future.
Jenny Cameron and Katherine Gibson
This chapter discusses how research can be part of a social action agenda to build new economies. This research is based on collaborations between researchers and research participants, and involves three interwoven strategies. The first focuses on developing new languages of economy; the second, on decentring economic subjectivity; and the third, on collective actions to consolidate and build economic initiatives. The chapter illustrates how these strategies feature in three research projects. The first project was based in the Philippines and involved working with an NGO and two municipalities to pilot pathways for endogenous economic development. The second project was based in the US Northeast and used participatory mapping techniques to reveal the use and stewardship of marine resources. The third project was based in Australia and focused on environmentally sustainable and socially and economically just forms of manufacturing. These projects resulted in collective actions that created new economic options.