Welfare Enterprise: A Systems Theoretical Analysis of the Steering Potential of the State in Relation to Social Enterprises

Alexander Fredens & Jeppe Thode

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis sets out to illuminate how the Danish state exercises power towards Social Economic Enterprises (SEE) by suspending its own suspension of steering.
In the thesis we subscribe to Niklas Luhmann’s System Theory approach and the second or- der observation of distinctions. Through an analytical strategy consisting of three steps, where one leads the way for the next, we outline and condition how we wish to approach our analy- tical object. We perform a semantic constitutional analysis followed by a steering analysis, while finalising with an analytical discussion of the political hybrid.
The semantic analysis uncovers how a seemingly bewildering room of entangled ex- pectations of responsibility partaken by enterprises over time has established itself as a se- mantic norm. Through four phases we show how the semantic structures are contingent and inherently contradicting. This lets us reveal that the bewildering room is founded upon a pa- radox, where on the one hand the state wishes to create the SEE as its own capacity, but on the other hand the state needs to steer the SEE in accordance to the state’s ambitions.
However, it seems that despite the paradoxical foundation the state manages to steer and so we ask ourselves how? Through the steering analysis we show how the state in four strategies manages to both let the SEE remain its own and give directions as to what the SEE should be. We find that the state invites the SEE into the semantic room by complimenting it with potential such as innovative and intersectoral capabilities. Simultaneously, the state of- fers distinct tools for measuring and documentation, thereby suggesting that the SEE needs it to legitimise its efforts and existence. This lets us illuminate how the policy for steering the SEE is inherently impossible because it tries to be something other than itself. It is a policy that tries to not be a policy, thus furthering the paradoxical room for steering.
Finally, we discuss how the concepts of hybrid, suspension and suspension of suspen- sion offers a terminology that can structure our analytical results into an understanding of how this impossible mode of steering becomes possible. We argue, the concepts do in fact let us see how the state needs the qualities of the SEE in order to be a successful welfare state. However, the state cannot steer the SEE as the qualities of the SEE only exists in its capacity as something else than the state. Therefore, the state must suspend itself from steering while instantaneously suspending the suspension to assure that the SEE becomes the correct soluti- on to the perceived problems of the state.
In conclusion, the policy is a political hybrid making the impossible possible.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages130