This research group is researching social enterprise and the wider social economy.  

Social economy is conceptualised in two ways: as a term to mean the ‘third sector’ comprising value-led organisations such as social enterprises, voluntary organisations, co-operatives and mutuals; and as a term that reframes and disrupts notions of the economy as a web of relationships designed to serve the needs of society. 

At the micro level, we research value-led social and solidarity-based organisations: how they work, for whom and in what circumstances, and the contexts and mechanisms that trigger positive health and wellbeing outcomes. We conceptualise these organisations as contributing to the upstream social determinants of health. At the meso level we are interested in how ideas, especially policies, shape ‘ecosystems’ of support, enabling (or constraining) social innovation to flourish. At the macro level we are interested in how discourses and ideas travel, mutate and translate into (social economy) responses and provoke ‘alternative’ economic agendas. Adopting a critical perspective, we are particularly interested in critiquing and contributing to ideas that emerged with relevance to social economy ideas and principles, such as ‘wellbeing economy’ or ‘inclusive growth’. 

We draw upon and combine a range of methods from both constructivist and realist epistemologies. We have specific expertise in qualitative research methods; from ethnography (including digital ethnographic techniques) to participant observation, in-depth interviewing, oral histories, and realist evaluation.  

The value of our research can be most readily seen in the work we have done to support the development of policy, particularly social enterprise policy. We have worked closely with national and transnational government actors in helping to shape policies and mechanisms designed to support the social and solidarity economy. We work closely with sector representative bodies as a critical friend in support of their efforts to develop and enhance the social economy, both nationally and internationally.  

Here, you can explore some of our projects and outputs of our work  

Current projects