How social profiles influence community entrepreneurs’ capacity to develop networks. A Bourdieuan perspective on Italian community co-operatives

Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2021

Michele Bianchi, 2021

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Résumé :

During the last decade, Italian community co-operatives have emerged as a new form of community-development organization. The literature on community-based enterprises (CBEs) explains this phenomenon as a community that becomes entrepreneurial and develops locally based businesses for its socio-economic development. Nevertheless, a more critical view of CBEs reveals the partiality of a community’s participation in these organizations. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the extent to which the mainstream theoretical framework for analysing these organizations has influenced the general understanding of this phenomenon. This research brings into discussion social–capital theories, particularly Putnam’s neo-communitarian approach. It also proposes a diverse perspective on CBEs and community development by offering a critical analysis based on Pierre Bourdieu’s works. The present study considers a specific form of CBEs—the community co-operative— with particular reference to the Italian context. Results from an online questionnaire (twenty-nine participants) and a cross-case study analysis (five co-operatives) show that community entrepreneurs have common determined social profiles and these help them to aggregate certain local agents instead of others.