Mundane social entrepreneurship - A practice perspective on the work of microentrepreneurs

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The overall aim of this study is to increase the understanding of social entrepreneurship by analysing the social entrepreneurship assumptions in academic discourse, which offer a formula for social change, and the mundane practices of microentrepreneurs. This study brings the attention to the taken-for-granted assumptions of social entrepreneurship through studying how it is practiced. I followed the notion of social entrepreneurship and the work of people who identify themselves or were identified with social entrepreneurship by others in Finland. Theoretically, I asked how a practice perspective informs the study of social entrepreneurship. Empirically, I asked how microentrepreneurs identifying themselves or identified with social entrepreneurship cope with and solve mundane work related challenges over time. For answering the questions, I first reviewed social entrepreneurship, critical entrepreneurship and practice-based studies. Second, I followed microentrepreneurs' mundane work during 2009-2014. In different essays I focus on the tactics for influencing existing practices (Paper 1), creating social innovation over time in networks of practice (Paper 2), and sustaining 'buzz', a sense of belonging in one social enterprise (Paper 3). By adopting a practice perspective to social entrepreneurship, research on social entrepreneurship can be more aware of perspectives related to the dichotomies often attached to the phenomenon, for example conventional vs. social entrepreneurship. Understanding that the world consists of practices offers ways to do research when such categorisations are used and problematise them. In general terms, social entrepreneurship can be understood as a texture of practices dependent on the context and subject position. Thus, social entrepreneurs cannot achieve their mission alone without being part of the texture of practices. Although it is hoped that social entrepreneurship as a phenomenon is able to address the contemporary challenges and solve wicked problems, the phenomenon as a construct is part of the very world it is supposed to be changing. This study finds that although the microentrepreneurs studied tried to influence some existing practices and act upon their concerns, they were limited in their power to affect wide-ranging processes. Yet, social entrepreneurship as a popular concept can be a rational and socially acceptable way to disguise radical social change aims and provide space to experiment with marginal ideas that may challenge the existing ways of doing things.
Translated title of the contributionArkinen yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys: Käytäntöote mikroyrittäjien työhön
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Halme, Minna, Thesis Advisor
  • Kourula, Arno, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6986-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6985-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • social entrepreneurship
  • microentrepreneurship
  • practice perspective
  • work
  • assumptions


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