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Neoliberal co-optation and authoritarian renewal: social entrepreneurship networks in Jordan and Morocco

Kreıtmeyr-koska, Nadıne
This paper analyzes social entrepreneurship networks (SENs) - composed of social entrepreneurs, business and political elites, and international actors - in Jordan and Morocco and how they foster processes of authoritarian renewal through neoliberal forms of co-optation. I argue that these new neoliberal networks and pre-existing patterns of social interaction complement each other, fostering linkages between well-established elites and hand-picked social entrepreneurs as well as societal groups. The two case studies illustrate different trajectories of the development of SENs and their embeddedness in the respective political, social and economic contexts. Importantly, such trajectories indicate a similar direction of travel: social entrepreneurship, rather than acting as a driver of progressive change, has been aligned with the authoritarian regimes and cements neoliberalism as a mode of governance. This mutation of neoliberal tactics towards more inclusionary and consensual patterns seeks to ensure the survival of both neoliberalism and of authoritarian governance. Thus, the article brings to light repertoires of authoritarian neoliberalism that have hitherto been under-studied. Moreover, it offers a critical perspective on social entrepreneurship as an increasingly popular phenomenon that, in academia and beyond, has all too often been approached from an uncritical and apolitical perspective.