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Questioning legitimacy of social enterprises through Gramscian and Bourdieusian perspectives : the case of the British social enterprises

Nicolopoulou, Katerina and Lucas, Iain and Tatli, Ahu and Karatas-Ozkan, Mine and Costanzo, Laura A. and Ozbilgin, Mustafa and Manville, Graham (2015) Questioning legitimacy of social enterprises through Gramscian and Bourdieusian perspectives : the case of the British social enterprises. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship.

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Abstract

Drawing on data from six social enterprises in the UK, this paper demonstrates that social enterprises negotiate their legitimacy borrowing from the state, the corporation and the service logics. The paper illustrates the existential crises of legitimacy as experienced in the social enterprise sector. The utility of a principled ethical approach is discussed as a way forward. The paper also outlines challenges that social enterprises face when adopting an ethical approach. Theoretical tools of Gramsci and Bourdieu are mobilized in the paper in order to render visible the often implicit and questioned structures of hegemonic power that shape the habitus of legitimacy in social enterprises.