unpacking the crisis: un(der)employment, entrepreneurship, participation and resistance

Between unemployment and entrepreneurship: The liminal transitions of EU necessity entrepreneurs

Between unemployment and entrepreneurship: The liminal transitions of EU necessity entrepreneurs
We focus on situated entrepreneurial stories from Spain, Ireland and the UK drawn from ethnographic research. While governments and institutions, along with the media, promote a particular narrative –the empowered individual who ‘puts an innovative product in the market’– to encourage people out of unemployment by becoming more entrepreneurial, our interviewees do not recognize themselves in this institutionalised narrative. It is necessity, rather than opportunity (Hessels et al, 2008), that is pushing, rather than pulling (Amit and Muller, 1995; Gilad and Levine, 1986; Storey, 1982), them to become self-employed. The process is also experienced as more fragmented and fraught with difficulties than the official narrative outlines. Forced to create their own paid employment, they are ‘necessity entrepreneurs’ who wished they had the option of secure employment. We make explicit their liminal experiences in the transitory state between employment, unemployment and entrepreneurship. By engaging with these alternative experiences of the entrepreneurship process, we hope to: “access deeper organiz[ing] realities, closely linked to [people’s] experiences” (Gabriel, 1999: 270); complement the dominant understanding of entrepreneurship present in most research, institutional and media contexts (Jones and Spicer, 2005; Kenny and Scriver, 2012); and expand our understanding of entrepreneurship as a critical process with implications for social change and innovation (Dey and Steyaert, 2010, 2012).

9th International Conference in Critical Management Studies
Stream: Critical Entrepreneurship Studies
University of Leicester, UK, 8-10 July 2015