Registering Ideology in the Creation of Social Entrepreneurs: Intermediary Organizations

Pascal Dey, Othmar M. Lehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on social entrepreneurship has taken an increasing interest in issues pertaining to ideology. In contrast to existing research which tends to couch ‘ideology’ in pejorative terms (i.e. something which needs to be overcome), this paper conceives of ideology as a key mechanism for rendering social entrepreneurship an object with which people can identify. Specifically, drawing on qualitative research of one of the most prolific social entrepreneurship intermediaries, the Impact Hub, we investigate how social entrepreneurship is narrated as an ‘ideal subject’ which signals toward others what it takes to lead a meaningful (working) life. Taking its theoretical cues from Luc Boltanski’s theory of justification and from recent affect-based theorizing on ideology, our findings indicate that becoming a social entrepreneur gets framed less as a matter of struggle, hardship and perseverance than of ‘having fun’. We caution that the promise of enjoyment which pervades portrayals of the social entrepreneur might cultivate a passive attitude of empty ‘pleasure’ which effectively forecloses the properly political. The paper concludes by discussing the broader implications this hedonistic rendition of social entrepreneurship has, thus suggesting a re-politicization of social entrepreneurship through a confronting with the ‘impossible’
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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