Social enterprises with environmental objectives: saving traditional orchards in England and Germany

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Keech, Daniel (2017)

Social enterprises (SE) re-invest their profits towards a social mission. They have proliferated as post-industrial economies try to meet social need with limited state funding. Scholarship has expanded accordingly, although SEs with primarily environmental objectives have been neglected. This article examines how SEs, in regions noted for wildlife-rich orchards, fund nature conservation by marketing juice and/or cider, thereby attempting to revive economic possibilities for this traditional land use. A common thread between the SEs is their initiation by conservation organisations, and it is possible to group them within models of market intervention. Three models in particular are examined that reveal different approaches and success in orchard conservation. SE scholarship is marked by a wealth of case studies, and to avoid simply adding to this richness, the paper revisits Jen Beckert’s ideas on the social order of markets. His theory that actors strive for stability through forms of co-ordination in dynamic market ‘fields’ is applied to SEs aiming to produce positive conservation outcomes – or environmental order – from their market interventions. Within limits, social order advances understanding of environmental SE by identifying the multiple challenges they juggle, and revealing the environmental outcomes of SE engagement in markets.
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