An Affirmative Critique
Edited by Pascal Dey and Chris Steyaert
Chapter 2: A methodological critique of the social enterprise growth myth
Social enterprise is a contested concept which has become a site for policy intervention in many countries. In the UK the government has invested significant resources in social enterprise infrastructure, partly to increase the capacity of social enterprises to deliver or replace public services. Government publications show the number of social enterprises to have increased from 5300 to 62000 over a five-year period. This chapter explores the myth of social enterprise growth in the UK through a methodological critique of the four government data sources used to construct and legitimize this myth. Particular attention is paid to how political decisions influence the construction of evidence. We find that growth is mainly attributable to political decisions to reinterpret key elements of the social enterprise definition and to include new organizational types in sampling frames.
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