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Mobilizing Space to Realize the Transformative Potential of Work Integration Social Enterprises through a Politics of Scale and Scope

11:00, Thursday 11 May 2023 EDT (20 minutes)

Social enterprises are often critiqued for their inability to offer a viable alternative to capitalism, and for the way they support - rather than dismantle - the neoliberal state. Work integration social enterprises (WISES) are no exception to these criticisms. Many argue that WISEs end up perpetuating precarious work, placing people in low skill and low paid jobs rather than empowering them. Despite these concerns, WISEs encompass a multitude of relations that fall within - but also exceed- neoliberal capitalist relations. They are often spaces of mutual aid, collectivity and care, and in this sense, can - under limited circumstances - give rise to more-than-capitalist relations. In this paper, we examine the types of organizational and spatial structure that can best support the flourishing of non-capitalist relations, arguing that social enterprises that are part of a broader collective or non-profit network and shared space are more likely to realize the economies of scale and scope necessary to enhance their transformative possibilities. A case study of one non-profit organization in Toronto Canada- the Learning Enrichment Foundation- is used to support this argument. 

Concordia University
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