Re-embedding Embeddedness: What is the role of Social Enterprise in Promoting Democracy and Protecting Social Rights?

Michael J. Roy*, Pascal Dey, Simon Teasdale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
290 Downloads (Pure)


In today’s “market society” almost every aspect of the everyday lives is shaped by market forces. In this essay, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the potential role of social enterprise as one means of re-embedding the economy into society to ensure the economy works for people, rather than the other way around.

This is primarily a conceptual paper: a provocation.

The authors argue that to work as an embedding force, social enterprise needs to ensure both reciprocity and market exchange while acting in a way that attempts to compensate for the retreat of the state through providing public services and promoting collective decision-making and public deliberation.

Drawing upon the work of Karl Polanyi to conceptualise social enterprise as an “alternative” economic actor within a plural economic system, the authors contribute to on-going debates about social enterprise as an alternative way of organising markets and society. The authors highlight the challenges involved in achieving such a vision and suggest ways these might be overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-397
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021


  • institutions
  • embeddedness
  • Karl Polanyi
  • organisations
  • welfare
  • Polanyi
  • democracy
  • social enterprise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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