Social Entrepreneurship
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Social Entrepreneurship

To Act as if and Make a Difference

Björn Bjerke and Mathias Karlsson

This informative book examines some social entrepreneurs in practice in several countries whilst concentrating on entrepreneurs in the third sector. The authors call them citizen entrepreneurs. Such people are not only becoming more common but also more necessary in the world of today.
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Chapter 4: Different kinds of citizen entrepreneurs

To Act as if and Make a Difference

Björn Bjerke and Mathias Karlsson


Westerdahl (2001) provides three proposals to why there is a citizen sector (a third sector, a social economy): The vacuum hypothesis: The stagnation and even shrinkage of the public sector and (in some cases) decline in large areas of the business sector has created a space for other actors. This hypothesis is, according to Westerdahl, the most important one of the three. The glocal hypothesis (the identity hypothesis): At the same time as we are experiencing more globalization we also note a greater wish for local and regional identity. The influence hypothesis: We are experiencing an increased questioning of the public sector’s handling of tax revenues connected with a wish of a greater influence over the way in which this is done. Thus the three hypotheses – if they are correct – show that the transformation of society currently under way in the Western world exhibits certain development features suggesting a probability that, whether by necessity or by voluntary commitment, certain social elements of the economy will assume increased importance for certain actors. This makes it possible for activities conducted under social-economic forms to expand. The extent to which these activities can make use of this potential for expansion is determined primarily by their strength, their competitiveness and the attitude towards them of other actors in society. (Westlund, 2001, p. 435) Estimated employment in the third sector is 8–10 per cent in Western Europe (somewhat less in Sweden due to its large common sector and considerably more in, for instance, Greece).

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