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Realms of Influence: The Dynamics of Social Entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Jordan

TAUBER, LILIAN,ALEXANDRA (2020) Realms of Influence: The Dynamics of Social Entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Jordan. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Social enterprises are organizations that employ business-like tactics to achieve primarily social goals, with the distinguishing qualities of having social objectives, using social capital, and creating social value. While there is a body of literature that demonstrates the potential of social entrepreneurship to address various issues in the Middle East, this research instead analyses social enterprises’ actual ability to achieve their goals as independent, community-responsive actors. The work is situated in the wider debates about democratization in the region by assessing the impact that regime surveillance tactics have on the development of social capital. This thesis evaluates social entrepreneurship in its political and legal context and is based on fieldwork in Jordan using semi-structured interviews with social entrepreneurs, members of their support networks, and government officials.

By supporting social entrepreneurship, the international community implicitly supports development initiatives that rely on social capital, because social capital is intrinsic to social enterprises. This is problematic because the value of social capital in development is disputed; it can have positive or negative, exclusionary effects. This means that international actors may be supporting a strategy that has been shown to promote only ‘accepted’ kinds of association and perpetuate the status quo. The issue that therefore arises is what the role of social capital is in Jordan, an authoritarian regime where government surveillance is prevalent.

This thesis finds that the Jordanian regime uses surveillance and bureaucratic mechanisms to direct and restrict the work of social enterprises by imposing structural restrictions on the development of social capital. Confusing bureaucratic policies, the ministries’ pervasive oversight, restrictions in the legal code, a foreign funding control mechanism, and royal NGOs’ co-optation of social entrepreneurship are all indicators of persisting semi-authoritarian governance approaches. Therefore, Jordan’s social enterprises fail to contribute to the growth of an independent civil society and are not effective development agents due to the many regulatory restrictions that govern them.

Through an examination of the impact of the regime’s surveillance on the political liberalization process and the development of social capital, the thesis argues that state support or involvement with social enterprises and social capital can build hierarchical associational relationships instead of social networks that lead to political empowerment. Such social networks have been theorized to lead to mutually beneficial collective action that results in steps towards democratization. In Jordan, however, state surveillance interrupts the pathway from social capital development to democratization.

Through the case of social enterprises, the thesis demonstrates that the regime’s interference with social capital negates any theoretical potential it may have to be the ‘building block’ of civil society because it renders social capital the dependent variable. Thus, the state’s influence extends to the very foundations of any democratization processes in Jordan.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Jun 2020 17:26

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