Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: During the last three decades, micro-entrepreneurship has become a major target of governmental and corporate action worldwide. The expansion of programs aimed at supporting potential and early career entrepreneurs, have affected an increasingly large sectors of society across different class and ethnic backgrounds. Inspired by the principles of micro-finance, entrepreneurial governance has emerged discursively as a panacea for economic precariousness among marginalized sectors of society, bearing promises of more inclusive access to entrepreneurial formation and feeding hope of social mobility. At the same time, under the banner of innovation, entrepreneurial governance has also created new inequalities by reifying class differences. Many of the ideals behind the emergence of new entrepreneurs reflect neoliberal principles, in particular, self-accountability, and a celebration of economic freedom, regardless of ongoing dependence on governmental support to small scale entrepreneurs. Although micro-entrepreneurial governance often fails to engender the promised transformation of citizens into fully independent entrepreneurs, it remains a powerful technology. By eliciting imaginaries of self-realization based on the constant renewal of aspiration, micro-entrepreneurial governance serves as the context in which potential and actual entrepreneurs redirect their life trajectories through the articulation of new claims of class and ethnic difference. We seek contributions that engage with practices, experiences and discourses of micro-entrepreneurship. These may focus on the effects of state, non-governmental or corporate interventions in entrepreneurial formation of individual subjects or communities, as well as critical responses among potential and actual entrepreneurs.