Questioning legitimacy of social enterprises through Gramscian and Bourdieusian perspectives: The case of British social enterprises

Katerina Nicolopoulou (Lead Author), Iain Lucas, Ahu Tatli, Mine Karatas-Ozkan, Laura A. Costanzo, Mustafa Özbilgin, Graham Manville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on data from six social enterprises in the UK, this paper demonstrates that social enterprises negotiate their legitimacy borrowing from the state, the corporation and the service logics. The paper illustrates the existential crises of legitimacy as experienced in the social enterprise sector. The utility of a principled ethical approach is discussed as a way forward. The paper also outlines challenges that social enterprises face when adopting an ethical approach. Theoretical tools of Gramsci and Bourdieu are mobilized in the paper in order to render visible the often implicit and questioned structures of hegemonic power that shape the habitus of legitimacy in social enterprises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-185
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social Entrepreneurship
Issue number2
Early online date22 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Social enterprise
  • legitimacy
  • Gramsci
  • Bourdieu
  • hegemony

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