In this paper, the discursive constructions and redesigns of social enterprises’ work against social exclusion are outlined in a Swedish context. Due to a national process of institutionalization, the general understanding of the social enterprises is presently undergoing a change. Hence, the paper starts off in identifying the discourses – and the discursive changes – present in the general talk on Swedish social enterprises.
The analysis is based on documents produced by national state agencies and policy-makers. To examine the practical implications of the discourses, I will then present a case study of a project initiated in 2005, aiming to develop a social enterprise. First, the relation between the initial project description and the general discourses is identified. Next, the re-negotiations of the project’s aims and objectives in the everyday practice of the enterprise are unveiled. Finally the implications of the enterprises’ overall aim to tackle social exclusion are discussed in regard with the case examined, and the prevailing discourses at a national level. Analysing possible discursive reconstructions of social enterprises’ work against exclusion, as well as their implications, can hopefully make a relevant contribution to the development of a comprehensive conceptual framework able to overcome national specificities.