Social enterprise and dis/identification: The politics of identity work in the English third sector

Social enterprise has been criticized for discursively transform- ing third sector organizations and practitioners into economic agents. Such a critique too readily construes the discourse of social enterprise as a deterministic force that encroaches on all aspects of organizational and individual identity. We reintroduce a sense of agency to discursive conceptualizations through an empirical study focusing on whether and how social enterprise infiltrates the third sector at the level of the subject. Drawing from a qualitative study in England, we use Pêcheux’ s three-part model of dis/identification as an explanatory schema to conceptualize the ways third sector practitioners endorse or reject the inher- ent norms and principles of social enterprise. The discussion covers how processes of identification, counter-identification, and disidentification, respectively, perpetuate or transgress the discourse of social enterprise and highlights the implications for future research in this developing field.
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