Different ways of dealing with tensions: practices of (re)negotiation in local social economies

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E-pub ahead of print


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Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Early online date5 Jul 2017
StateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2017


The purpose of this paper is to propose a nuanced understanding of the diverse practices social enterprises engage with to fulfill their commitments of delivering social/environmental goods and/or services while earning income to sustain their activities.

This research paper is based on an empirical investigation which used an ethnographic approach to study the social economy in two distinct city regions in the north of England.

Against a commonsense view of social enterprises being able to balance (with ease) social and economic goals, this paper suggests, based on empirical insights, that such a harmonious rendition tends to neglect the messiness at the heart of such organizations. Heeding ongoing reflections, explanations and negotiations as key ingredients in keeping social enterprises 'balanced', this paper argues that negotiating tensions is a constantly dynamic process.

Using an ethnographic approach, this paper offers insights into the complexities and tensions social enterprises constantly deal with and it shows these tensions must be constantly renegotiated.


  • social economies, economic goals