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Reclaiming social enterprise from its neoliberal turn

Social enterprise and third sector activity have mushroomed into a prolific area of academic research and discourse over the past 20 years, with many claiming their origins rooted in Blair, New Labour and Giddens’ ‘Third Way’. But many academic contributions lack experience of policy implementation and do not access the wealth of grey, legacy and public policy literature from earlier periods which supports different interpretations. Since most make few references to developments during the 1970s and 1980s, their narrow focus on New Labour from 1997 onwards not only neglects real antecedents, but miscasts the role of social enterprise.

Adopting a Critical Realist approach, the author had access to previously unused hardcopy documents from archives and collections and interviewed key players and key actors between 1998 and 2002, when major social enterprise and third sector policy changes occurred.

During a key political period from 1998 to 2002, Blair’s New Labour governments forced through a major conceptual shift for social enterprise, co-operative and third sector activity. Many structures, formed as community responses to massive deindustrialisation in the 1970s and 1980s, were repositioned to bid against the private sector to obtain contracts for delivery of low-cost public services.

Other UK academic contributions draw parallels with North American individual social entrepreneurs or rely excessively on interpretations from L’Emergence de l’Entreprise Sociale en Europe (EMES) Research Network, which prioritises a marketised version of “work integration social enterprises” (WISEs).

So the restoration of political and economic democracy has been denied to many local communities.

Elizabeth Meehan and Fiona Mackay

voluntary activity in Ireland from the end of eighteenth century which intensified in Northern Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century. The significance of the voluntary and community sector in policy-making is connected to sectarianism in local formal politics, the ‘democratic deficits’ of direct rule by Westminster and the conditions for receipt of funding from the

in Everyday life after the Irish conflict
Leslie Huckfield

cut-back local government services, at best dependent on Urban Programme funding for continuity” ( Stewart 1987 , 141). Though later 1981 Inner Urban Areas Act Ministerial Guidelines to Partnership and Programme Authorities did not prioritise voluntary and community sector development, there was, however, £1000 for new workers’ co-operatives in designated areas ( JURUE Division of ECOTEC Research and

in How Blair killed the co-ops
Full text access
Leslie Huckfield

encourage voluntary and community sector participation in a marketised public service delivery which prefaced similar later policies for social enterprise. Other contributions support the author’s contention. “In such a perspective, the third sector can no longer be viewed as fully separated from the private for-profit and the public sectors; instead, it appears as an intermediate sector” ( Defourny

in How Blair killed the co-ops
Abstract only
Austerity and the community sector in the Republic of Ireland
John Bissett

beginning of the financial crisis: MUP_CoulterNagle_Printer3.indd 172 24/04/2015 16:36 Defiance and hope in the community sector 173 • The estimated level of employment in the sector was 53,098 fulltime equivalents; • The value of the voluntary and community sector to the economy was €6.5bn, or between 3.52% of GDP and 3.97% of GNP; • The annual level of state funding for the sector was in the order of €1.89bn; • There were about 6,100 voluntary and community ‘charitable’ organisations; • About 26% of citizens regularly took part in some form of voluntary

in Ireland under austerity
Bethany Waterhouse-Bradley

migrants. The following section is informed by a series of interviews with civil servants – primarily from the Racial Equality and Social Cohesion Units of the then Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) from the main political parties including both community designations, and leaders of the black and minority ethnic, and migrant voluntary and community sector. The semi-structured interviews took place between 2011 and 2012, during the pre-consultation period for a new

in Immigrants as outsiders in the two Irelands
The context
Mary C. Murphy

‘a system of unaccountable public administration in Northern Ireland’. This less than satisfactory form of governance led to wider and justifiable claims that Northern Ireland politics suffered from a ‘democratic deficit’ (see Carmichael 1999 and Knox 1999). To some extent, the voluntary and community sector played some role in alleviating the democratic deficit in Northern Ireland during the period of direct rule (see Morison 2006). According to McCall and Williamson (2001: 364), ‘the voluntary and community sector participated in the governance of the region to a

in Northern Ireland and the European Union
Derek Birrell

reorganisation. District councils took over from the Department of Education responsibility for assisting voluntary and community groups with general administrative expenses. An emphasis on physical provision led most councils to provide community centres and in all by 2000 the community services programme supported the provision of 239 community centres across all district council areas (DSD, 2000). Community centres provided by councils represent a major financial investment in Northern Ireland’s social, economic and physical infrastructure with some 1,600 community groups

in Direct rule and the governance of Northern Ireland
Abstract only
Leslie Huckfield

experience yet in contracting or feel that contracting is irrelevant to them”. This means a gradual hollowing out the voluntary and community sector ( Aiken and Harris 2017 ), within a policy framework which usually sets a precedent for social enterprises. For the author, Rhodes, though writing in 1994, summarises the current situation ( 1994 , 151

in How Blair killed the co-ops
Abstract only
Leslie Huckfield

significance of RMI support. Third sector and welfare reform The direction of UK social enterprise and third sector policy has also been driven by third sector infrastructure organisations as policy entrepreneurs. The significance of representation for voluntary and community organisations at national level is not always recognised. After the Wolfenden Report in 1978, it was the

in How Blair killed the co-ops