chapter  5
Enterprises, Legitimacy and Pursuit of the Social
ByBrendan Murtagh
Pages 21

The restructuring of the social enterprise sector in response to welfare reform has widened the potential for mission drift, especially in the UK and the US. Their analysis is important because it locates the source of conflict and the response to the maintenance of various legitimacies, which are constitutive of social enterprise practice. For-profit operators use a range of cognitive techniques to gain legitimacy among social and state actors without fundamentally restructuring their dominant commercial ethos. There is a degree of conceptual uncertainty about social enterprises and the emphasis on business cultures within the Social and Solidarity Economy. For critics, these cultures are about shifting the sector towards the market, the techniques of capitalism and the always compromising pursuit of profit. In the US, they insulated communities from the property crash and the effects of the subprime market in particular.