Can social enterprise contribute to creating sustainable rural communities? Using the lens of structuration theory to analyse the emergence of rural social enterprise
Recent public policies increasingly emphasize the role of communities in service co-production. Collaboration between the state and the public is frequently associated with social enterprise activities. However, the assumption that social enterprises can be successfully built and developed in remote and rural areas might be faulty. Current policy does not recognize contextual factors relating to rural social enterprise development. Drawing on a qualitative study in the Highlands of Scotland the article questions the role of social enterprise in creating sustainable rural communities; it presents promoters and barriers to rural social enterprise development. Findings suggest that although rural communities do not control all the conditions that affect them, they have the ability to adapt to some structural features. This means that in spite of social and economic challenges, rural communities might benefit from rural social enterprise through practising ‘adaptive capacity’.
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