Between social and economic good: conflicting projects of legitimation of social entrepreneurship in Russia




social entrepreneurship, social enterprises, legitimation, state, business, NPO, social services, philanthropy, vulnerable groups


The theoretical basis of work is the notion of legitimation as a complex mechanism of the social approval of a new phenomenon taking place with the active participation of different social groups and structures, able to influence its final form. In the focus of the empirical analysis are the representations of social entrepreneurship which main actors of its legitimacy in Russia have. Among them are: the state, foundations, NPOs and business. We assess the (in)consistency between their representations and the reflection of these representations in the characteristics of existing organizations of social entrepreneurship (social enterprises). Business, government and NPOs are understood as external actors of social enterprise legitimation, as without their recognition the legitimation will not take place. In turn, social enterprises, regardless of whether they come from for-profit or non-profit sector, are seen as the objects of legitimation, or as a new actor, not identical to any of the above. It is shown that the contradictions in the positions of the key actors can lead to the mutually exclusive projects of legitimation of a new phenomenon, so that they will undermine the cognitive and moral legitimacy of each other. The empirical data include the results of the authors survey of 202 social enterprises.