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The FairShares Model: A Communitarian Pluralist Approach to Constituting Social Enterprises?

Ridley-Duff, R and Bull, Mike (2013) The FairShares Model: A Communitarian Pluralist Approach to Constituting Social Enterprises? In: BSA Work Employment and Society Conference, 03 September 2013 - 05 September 2013, Warwick, United Kingdom. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper explores the philosophical assumptions of the FairShares Model - a set of social enterprise development guidelines published by the FairShares Association. In post-crisis economies with deregulated public services, the principles of the free-market set forth a challenge to many organisations within the social economy. Previous contributions to the literature on social economy have drawn on communitarian philosophy to develop insights into mutual principles. This paper sets out a theoretical framework to evaluate whether the FairShares Model represents a communitarian pluralist discourse on the constitution of social enterprises. After close analysis of antecedent model rules and their influence, the FairShares Model is theorised as a predominantly communitarian pluralist discourse with some ‘corporatist’ commitments. It represents an evolving set of guidelines for the ‘socialisation’ of enterprise by devising membership rights for two primary stakeholders (labour, users), and two secondary stakeholders (founders, investors). Exploring intellectual antecedents clarifies the social entrepreneurial and cooperative traditions that have influenced its development. The FairShares Model offers an alternative to private sector models based on the subordination of labour and mutual models based on the primacy of a single stakeholder group. It is designed to reverse the centralising and accumulating tendencies of the private sector without returning assets to state control. It differs from philanthropic models by offering co-operative (par value) shares to three member classes: founders, labour and users, and (ordinary) ‘investor’ shares to all classes of member.

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