Social Entrepreneurship, Sociological Engagement, and Social Change

Friday, 20 July 2018: 13:30
Oral Presentation
Vessela MISHEVA, Uppsala University, Sweden
The debate about capitalism in question intersects the sociological debate in which sociology, in a self-reflexive turn, has begun examining its own foundations. One challenge in this regard concerns the lack of sociological interest and engagement in social entrepreneurship research, which is dominated by economics and psychology. This reveals that sociology has been alienated from its own foundations insofar as the history and institutionalization of sociology are closely associated with social entrepreneurship and the encouragement of social reform. The wealth of sociological knowledge about social entrepreneurship from a participant-observer position, which could have been applied to illustrating the basic mechanisms involved, are now forgotten and unused. Clearly, the growing number of unresolved social problems and unsatisfied social needs that have been accumulated for more than a century – in spite of the expansion of wealth production and the general prosperity of capitalist enterprises – is a primary reason for the emergence and spread of social enterprise today. However, the origins of the social entrepreneur, or agent of social change, as well as that of the unusual not-for-profit quality of her entrepreneurship, remain unclear. Against this background, I argue that social entrepreneurship begins neither with entrepreneurship, to which the social is somehow added, nor with seeing an opportunity to provide a new solution to a social problem and acting upon it, as is often claimed. It is instead conditioned by righteous indignation at injustice, which is based upon moral guilt. Social entrepreneurship will consequently be discussed in terms of an awakened social consciousness that strives to repair the damage done by the individualistic consciousness of the modern entrepreneur, who is committed to an individualistic ethics. Social entrepreneurship thus comprises a moral criticism of society that signals an emerging ethical revolution.