It’s always the hardest part to capture the added value that a network like EMES creates for researchers involved in the vast research area covered by social enterprise and related topics like third sector, voluntary associations, social and solidarity economy, etc. This is why when we received Tracey Coule‘s account of her first had experience of the latest event held by EMES co-organized with its institutional member LEST and the EMPOWER-SE Action, we knew that we had to share it as it was. A reflection from a newcomer with a promising future to establish meaningful professional and human connections in the context of EMES.
Feels like home to me…
I have just returned from an amazing experience at the EMES PhD Training School in Carry-le-Rouet, Marseille, and wanted to say a huge thank you to the EMES “family”. I was an EMES newbie, invited as faculty of the training school by Marthe Nyssens and Rocío Nogales after meeting them in Sheffield, England – the venue for the next EMES international research conference.
I had never met any of the other faculty members, having always identified myself as a “nonprofit” rather than “social enterprise” scholar. Despite this, on arriving on a sun soaked terrace while many other faculty members were enjoying breakfast and catching up before the start of the first day, I was taken aback by the welcome I received. Total strangers, downed their croissants and coffee, and halted their conversations, in order to introduce themselves and welcome me to the group. This openness in the inter-personal sphere extended to the intellectual sphere also, and I soon found myself connecting with, challenging and being challenged about the boundaries that (often artificially) divide the organisational entities, ideologies and practices within our adjacent fields of study. Exchanges within and between student and faculty groupings provided robust debates and were the kind that can only successfully occur in authentic, respectful and trustful environments.
I first heard the saying “go find your people” at the ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) research conference in 2016. There, and now within EMES, I feel like I have finally found my people – a decade after completing my own Ph.! If you research social enterprise, social economy, social solidarity – or any of the adjacent fields of study – and want a forum for open, generative interdisciplinary dialogue then the EMES network is likely a good home for you. As a first step, we would be delighted for you to join us in Sheffield next year, where the conference is specifically designed to explore synergies and catalyse critical debate between different disciplines and research communities on the state of the art of social enterprise, cooperative and voluntary action research. I hope to see you there and extend the EMES family welcome to new and long-standing members!
Thank you Tracey!
Tracey Coule is Reader in Nonprofit Governance and Organization at Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University.