New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Laura E. Grube and Virgil Henry Storr
Chapter 15: Subalternity and entrepreneurship: tales of marginalized but enterprising characters, oppressive settings and haunting plots
Entrepreneurs are cultural creatures, and culture affects how they conceive their opportunities and how they determine and pursue their interests. Understanding entrepreneurship in any particular context thus requires attention to be paid to prevailing cultural beliefs as well as the formal and informal institutions that affect economic behavior. This chapter adopts the important but seldom used approach of focusing upon the tales of entrepreneurship prevalent in a given culture. The authors argue that, to get a sense of the economic culture in a particular context, it is crucial to focus on what a culture’s success and failure stories tell about how to get ahead. Arguably, this approach is particularly important if the goal is to understand entrepreneurship amongst subaltern/marginalized groups. Using fiction from the former Soviet bloc, where a one-dimensional form of entrepreneurship flourished even within the command economy, and literature from anglophone Africa and the British Caribbean, where black entrepreneurship had to contend with brutal colonial rule and postcolonial corruption, this chapter highlights how entrepreneurs were influenced by culture in these contexts, and explores the origins of these cultural factors.
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