Social Entrepreneurship
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Social Entrepreneurship

An Affirmative Critique

Edited by Pascal Dey and Chris Steyaert

Pascal Dey and Chris Steyaert provide a timely critique on the idea of social entrepreneurship and its reputation as a means for positive social change. The book uses different traditions and modes of critique to interrogate, disrupt and reimagine the concept of social entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 11: Deliberative democracy in social entrepreneurship: a discourse ethics approach to participative processes of social change

Trish Ruebottom


This chapter takes a critical look at the economic, cultural and political dimensions of social entrepreneurship, and the ethical risks in each dimension. Processes of democratic deliberation are then proposed, using a discourse ethics approach to self-determination as a way to mitigate the inherent risks. Specifically, the chapter suggests three processes at the heart of Habermas’ discourse ethics: political and communicative education; reflexivity; and facilitation of the ideal speech situation. Both education and reflexivity are necessary pre-processes for creating an ideal speech situation. The ideal speech situation itself then requires understanding-focused dialogue that aims to achieve opinion- and will-formation, where there is engagement with the ‘other’ and room for dissent. Together, political and communicative education, reflexivity, and facilitation of the ideal speech situation will create a more open and expanded viewpoint, where the organization’s values are not assumed or imposed on those they seek to help, with an approach that emphasizes self-determination and participation as moral equals.

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