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Actor-network theory as an approach to social enterprise and social value: a case study of Ghanaian social enterprises

Kohonen, Matti (2012) Actor-network theory as an approach to social enterprise and social value: a case study of Ghanaian social enterprises. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis assesses the potential of actor-network theory (ANT) for conceptualising social enterprise by applying the concepts of assemblage and translation to the production of social values through three fieldsites studied in Ghana. Social enterprises are companies that use market-based revenues to generate social value while maintaining financial viability. Social entrepreneurship involves using and combining resources, expertise and networks in an innovative way to achieve social value. Finally, social value makes it possible to explore well-being and common good in ways that cannot be reduced merely to individual needs and wants or to monetary quantities. The present study examines social enterprises and social entrepreneurship through three case-studies and draws lessons from nine months of fieldwork in Ghana in 2004-2005. Using actor-network theory allows us to trace and follow the three social enterprises and social entrepreneurs beyond the conventional understanding of an enterprise or an economy. Measuring and evaluating the qualities of interactions aimed at enhancing social value, social enterprises create new identified objects and realities by involving the stakeholders, users and customers in the process, not just experts, economists and accountants. These pluralistic socio-technical objects are considered in this study as assemblages. The production of social values is studied through the notion of ‘translation’ where values are gradually articulated through different stages. These propositions are studied by way of a ‘test’ in all three cases, in which various assemblages are identified according to three themes. The first theme discusses information assemblages, which is seen as a source of problematisations; the second relates to spatial assemblages and how they facilitate new associations to emerge; the third theme is credit and money; and how actors use them to enrol new resources. Finally, these resources are evaluated using either internal or external measuring tools developed for the social enterprise sector. Social values emerge through the cyclical process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Matti Tapani Kohonen
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Slater, Don and Dodd, Nigel

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