Polanyi’s ‘substantive approach’ to the economy in action? Conceptualising social enterprise as a public health ‘intervention’

Michael J. Roy, Michelle T. Hackett

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Abstract

For several decades now, critical public health researchers have highlighted the deleterious effects that pursuing neoliberal policies can have on the ‘causes of the causes’ of poor health and upon growing health inequalities. This paper argues that the conceptual tools of Karl Polanyi can help lend particular insight into this issue. The specific example that this paper focuses upon is the ‘social enterprise’: a form of organisation that combines both social and business objectives. The paper explores, conceptually, whether social enterprises may have the potential to act as one component of a neo-Polanyian countermovement: helping to re-embed the economy back into society, and offering greater recognition for a more comprehensive and socially imbued concept of health. Importantly, this potential is critically examined in the context of neoliberal hegemony, where challenges to the status quo have regularly been met with assimilation, co-option and/or repression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Social Economy
Volume75
Issue number2
Early online date26 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Health
Public health
Social enterprise
Business objectives
Health inequalities
Status quo
Hegemony

Keywords

  • economics
  • social enterprise
  • public health

Cite this

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title = "Polanyi’s ‘substantive approach’ to the economy in action? Conceptualising social enterprise as a public health ‘intervention’",
abstract = "For several decades now, critical public health researchers have highlighted the deleterious effects that pursuing neoliberal policies can have on the ‘causes of the causes’ of poor health and upon growing health inequalities. This paper argues that the conceptual tools of Karl Polanyi can help lend particular insight into this issue. The specific example that this paper focuses upon is the ‘social enterprise’: a form of organisation that combines both social and business objectives. The paper explores, conceptually, whether social enterprises may have the potential to act as one component of a neo-Polanyian countermovement: helping to re-embed the economy back into society, and offering greater recognition for a more comprehensive and socially imbued concept of health. Importantly, this potential is critically examined in the context of neoliberal hegemony, where challenges to the status quo have regularly been met with assimilation, co-option and/or repression.",
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