Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > The language of social entrepreneurs

Electronic data

View graph of relations

The language of social entrepreneurs

Research output: Working paper

Publication date2007
Place of PublicationLancaster University
PublisherInstitute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameEntrepreneurship and Enterprise Development Working Paper Series


This paper questions the application of the entrepreneurship discourse to social entrepreneurship in the UK and looks at how people 'doing' social enterprise appropriate or re-write the discourse to articulate their own realities. Drawing on phenomenological enquiry and discourse analysis, the study analyses the micro discourses of social entrepreneurs, as opposed to the meta rhetorics of (social) entrepreneurship. Analysis using both corpus linguistics software and Critical Discourse Analysis showed a preoccupation among interviewees with local issues, collective action, geographical community and local power struggles. Echoes of the enterprise discourse are evident but couched in linguistic devices that suggest a modified social construction of entrepreneurship, in which interviewees draw their legitimacy from a local or social morality. These findings are at odds ideologically with the discursive shifts of UK social enterprise policy over the last decade, in which a managerially defined rhetoric of enterprise is used to promote efficiency, business discipline and financial independence. The paper raises critical awareness of the tension in meanings appropriated to the enterprise discourse by social enterprise policy and practice and illustrates the value of discourse analysis for entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship research.