Aug 1, 2010
Policy and Society
Abstract Social enterprises, at least in the United States, internalize a hybrid mix of public, private and civil society activity, each and all of which are constituent and confluent. Is social enterprise re-embedding the market in civil society through its engagement to generate social wealth, or is it contributing to a process of dis-embedding, as a market-based approach to address societal issues imposes a strategy of commercialization? Simply asking this question demonstrates how difficult it is to capture this phenomenon in a homogeneous “new welfare mix” paradigm that realigns state, market and civil society relations. Not only do national contexts matter, but degrees of marketization or commercialization do as well. This article provides a broad overview of social enterprise in the North American context. In examining the literature on social enterprise, one navigates through a lexicon of numerous terms and definitions.