Thursday, 11 February 2010

Re: Marks on Social Enterprise Today

Social Enterprise back in fashion but poorly understood

Currently, governments across the world are promoting non-profit activity alongside local initiatives for community development. The popularity of social enterprise has been increasing as a marginal alternative to the dominance of public or government-led services. But the notion of social enterpise is not at all well known beyond the third sector (charities, not-for-profit, voluntary groups and social enterprise). Most people have not heard of Third Sector either, I suspect. I recall one of my University colleages responding with an indignant and rather dismissive reaction to social enterprise. He concluded that ‘social enterprise’ was just another example of Orwellian newspeak. Worse still, 'social enterprise' was a return to the agenda of 19th-century capitalism - with its notions of the deserrving and the undeserving poor. Enterprise was business and greed, strife rather than harmony, and militated fundamentally against an affirmative notion of social life. He thought that the two words also constituted a semantic muddle, rather like ‘bitter sweet’ or Milton’s Hell ‘darkness visible’.

A Emergent Market for Social Enterprise

Those semantic reservations aside, co-operative effort; community solutions, and local leadership may benefit directly from the effects of social enterprise movements. According to Peter Holbrook, Director of the Social Enterprise Coalition, there are some 62,000 social enterprise organisations employing 800,000 people and contributing £24bn to the economy. There is a substantial industry that involves being paid for services or products delivered, where the surplus is returned back to enterprise, or is distributed to deserving social causes.

Interviewed in Society Guardian, Peter Holbrook explained how the Social Enterprise sector is allowing people to make a real difference to their own lives; ‘Virtually everyone I meet in the business sector is interested … When I meet arts or business students and talk to them about the model, they are overwhelmingly in favour. There is even a module on social enterprise taught in schools.’

‘X’ Marks the Spot

But for consumers and ethical businesses wanting to deal with other businesses, how do you know that you are dealing with an authentic, or genuine, social enterprise rather than a business tht has merely displayed some token gestures of ethical sensitivity? Help is at hand. The newly launched Social Enterprise Mark identifies businesses that meet defined criteria for social enterprise. The Mark offers consumers an instantly recognisable logo that represents enterprises working for social and environmental aims, trading to benefit people and the planet. According to their website ‘the Mark is more than just a logo. It is also access to a network of social enterprises across the UK’ - hinting at the inter-trading and procurement of services that could happen within the sector.

Checklist for qualifying as a Social Enterprise

  • Do you have evidence of your company’s social and environmental aims?
  • Does the company have its own constitution and governing body?
  • Are at least 50% of the company’s profits spent on socially beneficial purposes?
  • Does the company earn at least 50% of its income from trading?
  • Can you provide externally verified evidence that you are achieving your social and environmental aims?
  • On dissolution of the company, are all residual assets distributed for social/environmental purposes?

For more information see

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Fold of Creativity and Critique

Poststructuralism as performance.... The Fold of Creativity and Critique

A Methodological Introduction by Dr Ian McCormick

'Poststructuralism' is a bewildering combination of theoretical projects and their applications. At best I shall be contending that elements of the poststructuralist approach afford the possibility of an open and balanced approach to the twin dynamics of criticism and creativity; poststructuralism folds one into the other. Underpinning my 'methodology' is the sense that both criticism and creativity are required in the shifting process of performance and that they are inseparable as the twin strands of participatory drama. Moreover, a poststructuralist approach serves to interrogate all conventional binaries such as teaching/learning, or acting/observing. More than just turning them upside-down, or reversing them, a poststructuralist would uncover the trace, play, or spectre, of one inside the other. Accordingly, poststructuralism employs an exhilarating rigour to critical and creative work that involves individual and group, word and world. The primary obsession of poststructuralism is a disproportionate scrutiny of the process of (non)-signification.....

Compared to structuralist approaches which generate a systematic and stable approach to making/reading meanings, poststructuralism promises less, but performs more. Rather than a system of meaning, a poststructuralist favours singularities of expression that undermine 'system' by questioning its schematic temperament. Any short definition is prone to simplification, and the whole project is in fact preoccupied by the elusiveness of 'tangible' or fixed meanings. As a result, acquaintance with poststructuralism may be frustrating (what do we do with it?) or excessively empowering and abundant (does it apply to everything?) Poststructuralism both exceeds and falls short of any methodology that attempts to structure it. Its starting point is an obsession with 'destabilising definitions and distinctions.' The research station transactions and encounters out of which this chapter emerges were therefore closely hinged to the prescribed keynote theme of the IDIERI 2003 conference 'destabilising definitions and distinctions'.....

Poststructuralist methodology is not a reductive set of procedures to be committed to memory, translated, and applied to multiple contexts. Rather it attaches itself to the singularity of any dramatic moment's educational component, in its moment of unfolding. Poststructuralism deploys an elusive alchemy in always moving beyond that moment as something that can be re-presented on demand. The alchemist is an early chemist whose experiments cannot be repeated with identical results each time they are attempted. For performance, as for poststructuralism, there is no step-by-step rulebook for success. These statements are rather precautionary and frustrating, primarily because they leave so much open to critical performances as processes that cannot be translated into quantifiable measures of success or failure. Rather than aiming for closed outcomes in our experience of drama, poststructuralism approaches 're-presentation' as shifting, tactical and incomplete. The aim is a super-consciousness of how performance effects or 'makes present' ideas, events, beliefs and intuitions. (It is also attached to the failure or inability to 'make present' – an 'other' learning opportunity that has been silenced.) ....