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Current Research on Sustainability

New Psychological Exploration: Social Entrepreneurship, Existentialism, and Sustainable Well-being

The discourse on social entrepreneurship, through the lens of existential philosophy, offers a rich and nuanced understanding of the psyche of individuals who choose to traverse the path of creating societal value. At the intersection of this discussion lies the concept of 'sustainable well-being'. While the term 'well-being' is frequently used in discussions about mental health, the prefix 'sustainable' introduces a new depth of understanding, suggesting not just a transient state of happiness or contentment, but a deep-seated, enduring sense of purpose and fulfillment.


Within the vast landscape of psychology, sustainable well-being emerges as a construct that aligns with the existential need for meaning and purpose. It goes beyond the traditional markers of psychological health, delving into areas of existential fulfillment, a deeper sense of purpose, alignment with one's values, and the profound feeling of living a life of significance.

For social entrepreneurs, their ventures offer a potential route to this sustainable well-being. By engaging in endeavors that resonate with existential ideals, they actively construct a life narrative rooted in purpose. This is not merely a professional journey but also an intensely personal one, characterized by confronting existential voids, seeking authenticity, acknowledging mortality and the desire for a lasting legacy, and deriving a deep sense of existential resilience.

The study of sustainable well-being in the context of social entrepreneurship is not just pertinent to understanding the psyche of a subset of individuals but holds broader implications for the field of psychology:

  1. Reconceptualizing Well-being: Traditionally, psychological metrics have focused on symptomatic relief, cognitive restructuring, and the attainment of positive emotions. Sustainable well-being pushes the boundaries of this understanding, emphasizing the need for meaning, purpose, and existential fulfillment. This shift could herald a broader change in therapeutic practices, emphasizing existential therapies and interventions that address deeper life questions.

  2. Existential Dimension in Positive Psychology: While positive psychology has made strides in understanding human strengths, happiness, and flourishing, integrating the existential dimension provides a more comprehensive perspective. It addresses not just the highs but also the existential lows and vacuums, offering a more holistic approach to human flourishing.

  3. Implications for Work-Life Integration: The rise of social entrepreneurship and the emphasis on purpose-driven work underscores a shift in the understanding of work. No longer just a means to an end, work, for many, has become an avenue for existential fulfillment. Psychology needs to address this shift, understanding the psychological implications and offering interventions that support such purpose-driven endeavors.

  4. Societal Implications: Social entrepreneurs are at the forefront of addressing societal challenges. Understanding their psyche, motivations, and sources of well-being can offer insights into creating societal structures that support meaning-driven endeavors. This not only aids individual entrepreneurs but can catalyze societal transformation.


In sum, the narrative of social entrepreneurship, enriched by existential thought and anchored in the concept of sustainable well-being, stands as a testament to the evolving understanding of human psychology. It underscores the profound need for meaning, the desire for purposeful engagement, and the quest for a deeper, more sustainable form of well-being. For the world of psychology, this narrative beckon a more comprehensive exploration, one that acknowledges the depths of human experience and strives for an authentic, sustainable well-being.

Previous Research Publications:

  • W. Zhang & T.T. Liu, "Psychological Mechanism of Social Entrepreneurs’ Multiple Identity Construction." R&D Management, Aug 30, 2022.

  • W. Zhang & Q.Y. Jiang, "6-Step Action Toward Social Value Co-creation – Frontiers of CSR Strategy Practices." Social Science Academics Press, China, Oct 1, 2017.

  • W. Zhang, "Social Enterprise Movement," in Q.Y. Jiang, L.X. Qian, M.Ding (Eds.), Fair Development in China. Springer Press, Jan 1, 2017.

  • W. Zhang et al., "Past 20 years’ Social Business Revolution in China." China Machine Press, Jan 1, 2013.

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