Our work in this area focuses principally on researching the potential for social business to act as a health creator and generator of wellbeing.
This brings a new ‘determinants of health’ perspective to the social business research agenda. Here we are not talking about social business in a more-conventional role as alternative provider of health services. Rather, our view is that, in acting to ameliorate various aspects of social vulnerability, any social business could be thought of as acting upon determinants of health. The reasons for thinking like this are that:
1. We know that people’s income and general life circumstances greatly influence their health and wellbeing.
2. Despite world class health services in countries like the UK, health inequalities are both persistent and widening, so we need to look for and evaluate new approaches to this societal challenge, with Third Sector activity, acting alongside more formal public and private sectors, arguably offering significant potential in this regard.
Our work in this area is multi-disciplinary. We are undertaking various early-stage research activities in order to inform the potential for larger and longer-term studies. For example, we have conducted systematic reviews of the health impact of social business-led activity and exploratory work with social businesses in order to hypothesise the mechanisms through which engaging with social business leads to eventual impacts on health and wellbeing. We are also interested in working with international partners to pursue the above research agenda in overseas countries at various stages of economic development.
Much of our work in this area has been funded by GCU, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and the Chief Scientist Office at the Scottish Government’s Health Directorates. We have also worked with the Church of Scotland, our main collaborators to date being the Social Enterprise Academy, University of Stirling, University of the Highlands and Islands, Robert Gordon University, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, and the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.