‘Newness’ in social entrepreneurship discourses: the concept of ‘danwei’ in the Chinese experience

Tim Curtis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


It has been suggested that the concept of danwei functions as a key structural element within Chinese urban society (R. Sévigny, S. Chen, and E.Y. Chen, 2009, Personal experience of schizophrenia and the role of danwei: a case study on 1990's Beijing, Cult Med Psychiatry, 33, 86–111). However, the relevance of the danwei to social entrepreneurship in China has not yet been identified let alone fully mapped out. Instead, the discourse relating to social entrepreneurship in China has typically been driven by Anglo-American models of entrepreneurship that emphasize novelty, whilst marginalizing the more established traditions of social movements within Chinese society. This has potentially significant implications for the concept, and project, of social entrepreneurship in China. In addition, western notions of social entrepreneurship can be enriched by the consideration of ‘oriental’ categories ofthought. This paper shows how the concept of social entrepreneurship tends to ‘evolve in its specific environment’ (J. Defourny and S.-Y. Kim, 2011, Emerging models of social enterprise in Eastern Asia: a cross-country analysis, Social enterprise journal, 7 (1), 86–111) and suggests that the evolution of the discourse and meanings of social entrepreneurship is rarely politically neutral or uncontested.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)198-217
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Entrepreneurship
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2011


  • Social enterprise
  • danwei
  • China


Dive into the research topics of '‘Newness’ in social entrepreneurship discourses: the concept of ‘danwei’ in the Chinese experience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this