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Towards a ‘Wellbeing Economy’: What Can We Learn from Social Enterprise?

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The New Social and Impact Economy

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Abstract

Rather than for the personal enrichment of owners or shareholders, social enterprises can be conceptualised as organisations that work to improve wellbeing, particularly at the local level to address the needs of vulnerable individuals and communities. This chapter looks at the potential role of social enterprise in shaping a ‘wellbeing economy’, an idea that has come to the fore in recent times in several countries around the world as a critique of contemporary economic orthodoxy, in recognition of the dominance of measures such as GDP and the unquestioned idea of perpetual growth, which has proven to be so destructive to the wellbeing of our society and environment. Focusing on research which explores the role of social enterprise in achieving (health and) wellbeing gains, particularly in local communities, an argument is constructed for social enterprise to be considered as a key organisational form on which to base the shaping of a wellbeing economy. The chapter closes with an exploration of the challenges faced—practically, conceptually and methodologically—in building such a wellbeing-focused new social economy, fit to face the formidable challenges of the twenty-first-century life.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See https://nationalperformance.gov.scot/

  2. 2.

    See https://nationalperformance.gov.scot/scotlands-wellbeing-report

  3. 3.

    I should doubly caveat this statement by acknowledging that ‘economists have long understood that the primary purpose of the discipline is to contribute to enhanced wellbeing of persons’ (Dalziel, Saunders, & Saunders, 2018, p. 3) and this tradition does continue to this day, most prominently within the sub-discipline of welfare economics.

  4. 4.

    See https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg8

  5. 5.

    See https://www.postgrowth.org/about-post-growth-economics

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Roy, M.J. (2021). Towards a ‘Wellbeing Economy’: What Can We Learn from Social Enterprise?. In: Gidron, B., Domaradzka, A. (eds) The New Social and Impact Economy. Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-68295-8_13

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