Rethinking the Space of Ethics in Social Entrepreneurship: Power, Subjectivity, and Practices of Freedom
Journal of Business Ethics 133 (4):627-641 (2016)
AbstractThis article identifies power, subjectivity, and practices of freedom as neglected but significant elements for understanding the ethics of social entrepreneurship. While the ethics of social entrepreneurship is typically conceptualized in conjunction with innate properties or moral commitments of the individual, we problematize this view based on its presupposition of an essentialist conception of the authentic subject. We offer, based on Foucault’s ethical oeuvre, a practice-based alternative which sees ethics as being exercised through a critical and creative dealing with the limits imposed by power, notably as they pertain to the conditioning of the neoliberal subject. To this end, we first draw on prior research which looks at how practitioners of social enterprises engage with government policies that demand that they should act and think more like prototypical entrepreneurs. Instead of simply endorsing the kind of entrepreneurial subjectivity implied in prevailing policies, our results indicate that practitioners are mostly reluctant to identify themselves with the invocation of governmental power, often rejecting the subjectivity offered to them by discourse. Conceiving these acts of resistance as emblematic of how social entrepreneurs practice ethics by retaining a skeptical attitude toward attempts that seek to determine who they should be and how they should live, we introduce three vignettes that illustrate how practices of freedom relate to critique, the care for others, and reflected choice. We conclude that a practice-based approach of ethics can advance our understanding of how social entrepreneurs actively produce conditions of freedom for themselves as well as for others without supposing a ‘true self’ or a utopian space of liberty beyond power.
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References found in this work
The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception.Michel Foucault - 1973 - Vintage Books.
Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault.Michel Foucault, Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman & Patrick H. Hutton (eds.) - 1988 - University of Massachusetts Press.
Citations of this work
Mapping the Intellectual Structure of Social Entrepreneurship Research: A Citation/Co-Citation Analysis.Pradeep Kumar Hota, Balaji Subramanian & Gopalakrishnan Narayanamurthy - 2020 - Journal of Business Ethics 166 (1):89-114.
Towards an Appreciation of Ethics in Social Enterprise Business Models.Mike Bull & Rory Ridley-Duff - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 159 (3):619-634.
Transformational Business Models, Grand Challenges, and Social Impact.Ignasi Martí - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 152 (4):965-976.
A Social Mission is Not Enough: Reflecting the Normative Foundations of Social Entrepreneurship.Ignas Bruder - 2020 - Journal of Business Ethics 174 (3):487-505.
The Ethics of Entrepreneurial Shared Value.Patricio Osorio-Vega - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 157 (4):981-995.
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